Tired Teacher Confesses

Recently I threw out this question to my teaching team mate: How fit does a PE teacher need to be?

I’ve been wondering about this lately as I feel my own fitness levels sink to new lows. When the teaching day is done, physically for the most part, so am I. After a day of 5 or 7 discrete classes, lots of standing, some walking, skipping, jogging, jumping, and stretching or strengthening, I usually cannot wait to sit down, to stare into a screen, read to my heart’s content and comment too, if I want.

My desire to get outside and run up a hill or amble through the woods is gone. Carving out time for a yoga or Zumba session – honestly, I’d rather not. So much of my day consists of encouraging and facilitating movement, that once the spotlight is off and that is no longer my public charge, I am thinking about when and how I can finagle enough time to compose or simply linger with a text.

And I’m aging. I have more mini aches and pains than a decade ago. I feel like I’m in a constant state of never-fully-recovered. My body is functional and can do what appears to be ‘all the things’ but rarely without some slight discomfort in one spot or another. There’s plenty of things I can still do ‘at my age’ and a number of things I wisely try to avoid. My youngest students still believe in the miracle of universal proficiency – they fantasize that I can do everything and sometimes it’s nice to indulge them in that.

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Exhaustion is a natural teaching health hazard. I see that. To claim and actually articulate my own sense of exhaustion feels risky and not all that smart but no less necessary. I travel in circles where saying that I am tired may be dismissed, laughed off, or cut down to size by another’s suffering. I have learned the guiding lesson for perpetual teachers that perseverance at all costs is a virtue. Some might call it grit.

Today I want to call it BS and say, y’all, I’m tired.

I’m tired and I love the work I get to do with children. To do my best work, I’ll need rest and recovery and fellowship.

Heading into these precious free days I feel deeply grateful for truth and community. To be tired and still be loved, that is a coveted gift in this busy, bustling world.

 

image: (c) Spelic

3 thoughts on “Tired Teacher Confesses

  1. Cathleen OConnell says:

    sherri!!! happy thanksgiving !!!!

    I love your post – call out the BS!!!!!!! – but I also want to challenge you back on a few things.

    First of all and most important: I hear you are tired. I honor it. I want you to take care of yourself and rest. I NEED to you to take care of yourself and rest.

    A reminder that it’s ok by the way, to rest. I know you know this. As you know from training, rest is an important a part of training. ( One of my students who trains for marathons is all into “active rest” which I love as an absurdist oxymoron, and I’m sure it has cred as a trend, but how about “inactive rest”? Is that passe? I’m all for inactive rest!)

    Ugh, the aging thing – it is not for the weak of heart, to paraphrase Bette Davis. But Matthew Sanford, who is a paraplegic yoga teacher, turns it upside down – when folks say they are falling apart – he asks us to consider that it’s the opposite – we are keeping it together – our bodies are working as hard as they can to keep it together!!! That made me feel better about my aging bones – and made the glass half full again…

    I hear a bit of self recrimination in this post – which is what I wanted to hug and hold it’s hand and say it’s ok and tuck a blanket in around it while it puts its feet up with a cup of tea and a laptop.

    Could taking care of yourself when you are tired be a form of fitness in and of itself? A form of fitness that comes from wisdom and a whole lot of been-there-done-that?

    Seems like your work is a fitness routine in and of itself, and I’d wager you are supremely fit… (That you have a fitness routine outside your work – which is itself a fitness routine – is some kind of Wonder Woman like super hero talent… )

    Can one be both fit and tired?

    Are there levels of fitness – that can wax and wane – can one be fit and work not so hard to maintain it?

    If one trains for a marathon – you taper before the big run – those folks are still fit even though they are not running a jillion miles a week….. After a marathon, one runs less mileage – are they still fit?

    Also, shameless yoga plug – not all yoga is hard, athletic, tiring.. maybe restorative yoga or yin yoga is something you wanna try?

    Anyhow – i love your fearless turning over of rocks – speaking your truth – I support and love you and want you to feed yourself however you need to be fed – body, brain, all of it. No apologies!

    xoxoxo

    >

  2. I am with you! I know I need to work on “me,” but at the end of a long day of teaching, I feel like there is no “me” left. I am truly struggling. I am also a believer of how our mindset controls our behaviors. But when my back is aching, I’m hungry, and I feel like I can’t take another step, my mind tends to go negative. Lately, it’s been different in my school. Teachers, admins, and students seem grouchier than usual. I fear apathy is infecting my colleagues and my school.

  3. […] Tired Teacher Confesses by Sherri Spelic asks some pointed questions for PE teachers who are committed to a full career in the classroom. […]

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