Be Like Bri

Be Like Bri

I was reading Angie Thomas’ latest book last weekend, and a quote struck me between the eyes, “All these folks I’ve never met became gods over my life. Now I gotta take the power back.” As someone who is struggling with both anxiety and grief this school year, in addition to the common stresses of teaching, this particular line seemed especially meaningful.  

Sometimes teaching feels more like your mind is swirling, desperately spinning, and you spend most of your time in a panic, trying to keep important thoughts and acts from falling down the drain.  There are days where I feel my whole body tense and my breathing become more rapid as I drive closer to my school. What is so odd about this sensation, is that I am that annoying person who truly loves her job.  So, it isn’t the job “getting me,” it is all the PRESSURE.

As we all know, we’ve fallen victim to a fluke string of snow days that have plagued our schools with an odd pattern of days this third quarter of the year.  This means there were days where we attended only one or two days in a week, causing lesson plans to have to be edited, and speakers canceled, and conferences moved, blah blah, blah.

This stray from my plan caused one level of stress, then my mind started working in required, district assessments that were being pushed; the impending “new” Iowa Assessment test on the horizon; the start of my first 4A high school track season; and ALL THE BEHAVIORS!

People truly underestimate the stress and chaos that must be endured in order to be a quality teacher and/or coach.  Then, on top of that, add ALL the comments by people who don’t teach. Eyeroll. Now, I get that parents are also exhausted from having to deal with their kids, stuck inside and acting like…well, kids stuck in a house.  However, some parents are NOT kind nor apologetic to teachers when you have to make that dreaded phone call home about academics or behavior.

BUT…this quote came back to me this week.  Because my co-teacher and I had an observation with our principal, and he sent us an email saying, “Wow!  You are teaching really important things. These kids are really lucky and really engaged.” That is when it hit me.  Why don’t these positive comments ever swirl in my brain like the negative? Why do I relive all those awful meetings with parents as I am trying to fall asleep, but I never replay emails or observations?  Why does the praise slide away but the criticism burn so permanently?

Maybe because if you read Facebook comments by parents, or emails from administration, or stare at your school calendar, student test scores or lesson plan obligations long enough, we all feel…overwhelmed.  Yet, it has to stop. You have to talk yourself back, if you are going to make it in this job.

Yesterday, I was coaching and I had a kid AND an adult lose it on me.  I became so flustered and overwhelmed, I ran outside and started walking around in the cold.  I even considered just getting in my car and leaving. But, then I looked through the window and saw my girls, and I knew I had to get-it-together.  There are humans who count on me to learn and lead and survive. You can’t stop people from being jerks or wearing you out, but you can stop your brain from swirling the negative crap.  You just have to be like Bri, and say, “All these folks I’ve never met became gods over my life. Now I gotta take the power back.” Then, you turn your light off in your classroom, close the door, and take a break until the new day begins.  

Britt Jungck teaches sixth-grade literacy at Bunger Middle School in Waterloo.