The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Have you ever felt stuck?

I mean like you want to move forward in life, but you feel duct taped to a wall?

Sure, we have all heard the motivational sayings…and I paraphrase:

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

If you want something to change, you have to do something different/new.

These popular sayings basically push some people into changing their lives, but what about those stuck on the wall? Those people who crave change, but cannot release themselves from the commitments or circumstances that keep them stagnant.

My guess is those people on the wall eventually accept where they are in life, give up on the idea of who/what/where they were “meant” to be and accept their position as their destination. My guess is based on quizzing my husband, who is a several years older than me, and from an episode of Downton Abbey.

You know the episode when Ethel first comes to the Abbey and speaks about all of her big dreams as though she is the only one with dreams.

So I will admit, my guess is not based on much. I would love to ask more people about their dreams of the past, but it might just make them sad.

You see I am over 30 and approaching the point in my life where the spot on the wall may be my destination. Now everyone will think ” Oh, you’re so young! That’s nonsense!”. But, you’d never believe that I am actually living the dream of my much younger self.

I made my major life decisions during my teenage years, as we are all forced to do. You know those big choices: which subjects to study, which career to pursue. I dreamt of a life where I would be able to help others, have flexible hours to spend with family and friends and live a modest life. That is exactly what I wanted and exactly what I have. But a teenager doesn’t think about all the little things that would keep an adult motivated.

I am able to help lots of people through my job…but putting other people first ALL THE TIME really depletes your energy.

My modest-paying job means many things are out of reach. No, I don’t mean limitless travel and 1000 thread count bed sheets. I mean I have to settle for public health care and have to watch my elderly parents put up with it(that really crushes your soul by the way).

It also means choosing to do a new degree or program which may take me on a different career path equals coming up with money I don’t have.

And you know those little moments where someone gives you a figurative pat on the back and acknowledges your hard work? Those super awkwark moments which validate your existence. There are no moments like that in my modest life. Yes, those cringe-worthy moments actually add something of value.

So at the moment I seriously question my life periodically. Usually every 2-3 weeks I have a sleepless night where I think of what could have been, what might still be and what may never change.

Maybe one day acceptance will seep in and I will have a more restful sleep.


Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton



Are you okay with failing? Well here’s the career for you

Teachers fail every single day.

Ask a doctor to cure a sick patient and they do it.

Ask a police officer to capture a criminal and they do it.

Ask a teacher to teach a class, they do it, some students learn and some students don’t. Teachers juggle so many uncontrollable variables and cannot predict how their lessons will be received. However, ask any teacher, there are always students who don’t understand a lesson. This happens even with a well-planned lesson. There is no such thing as 100% success in teaching. Teachers fail every day. Some may argue that teachers aren’t failing because some students are still learning. However, ask any parent, that’s unacceptable.

Imagine waking up every morning and knowing you are going to fail.

Imagine pursuing extra studies to improve your teaching abilities and still failing.

Imagine receiving your employee evaluation report with mediocre ratings(because no one gets perfect grades). It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how much extra time and effort you put it, you will always face failure.

An optimist may argue that it is all a mindset and we should view the glass as half full.

Well my glass was half full for years.

Years of working through lunch time, after school and vacation with the 3 students out of 20 who are interested in extra tuition(free).

There is only so much failure one can handle.

Oh how I wish I knew what it felt like to fully complete a task. I sometimes wonder how great doctors feel when a patient is cured or how satisfying it must be for a engineer to have their design successfully created.

The truth is teachers work hard too, but they never get the job satisfaction they deserve.


The ugly truth about teacher burnout

I am always tired.

I wake up tired.

I drag myself through the day.

After work I am exhausted.

I can’t remember the last time I felt energised and operated at maximum efficiency.

At the start of a work day, I mentally prepare myself for all the challenges that lay ahead; the difficult classes, negative students, negative coworkers. And as the day passes, I count down:

One difficult task down

Two difficult tasks down

Three difficult tasks down

And so on.

No one should live their life like that; just trying to get by.

Teaching isn’t always like this. Some days you are excited to introduce new topics and happy to see your students. No one ever tells you how hard it will be. You can have the best students imagineable and YOU MAY STILL get tired. You may still get burnt out. You will see your favourite student and feel a sense of resentment towards him/her. You may even resent the content for not being easier to explain. You will resent parents for not teaching their kids discipline. You will feel like everything and everyone is against you.

The best remedy is to take a day or two off and rest. The problem is you never know if you will return reenergised or if staying away will make it worse because you now have less time to complete your work.

Teacher burnout is very real. The prevalence of teacher burnout will surprise many. I can speak about the main triggers that lead to burnout for me.

1) Unappreciative students- students don’t always say thank you and teachers made their peace with it. However, sometimes their actions show that they aren’t even grateful for your efforts and it really hurts.

2) Unenthused students- I have had classes of well-behaved students who displayed very little interest in the content despite valiant efforts to make lessons as interesting as possible. You never know what to do in a situation like that.

3) Student indiscipline- This is the biggest one. Some students don’t care how/what you teach, as soon as you enter the door they oppose your every action. Nothing else in the profession is more humiliating.

4) Overworking- This happens a lot to very helpful people because they are approached the most to volunteer and do extra work. It is all good in the beginning, because everything you do is for the students. If the other staff members aren’t as willing to help, you will be doing much more work than your coworkers. Eventually, your goodwill will run out and even the nicest person will resent being taken advantage of.

5) Lack of support from administration- some teachers are willing to tackle problems using every resource possible. Unfortunately, administration does not always back their teachers. Imagine being blocked from issuing a suspension, or having administration side with a student/ student’s parent(s) over you. Imagine having a solution for one of the school’s problem and no one wants to listen to you. When something like this happens, teachers feel alone and undervalued. Very little can console them.

I imagine other jobs have their drawbacks as well. Teachers are always told how “lucky” they are to have so much vacation and such short working hours. Maybe it’s true. Maybe we complain too much and other jobs are more dangerous/difficult/life-sucking than teaching. Maybe we are too sensitive. I would entertain these thoughts a little longer if only everytime I tell a coworker ” I am tired” their response isn’t always ” Me too”.

Are some teachers better than others?

I have often heard administrators speak about teachers as though some are better than others.

Teachers are as different as they come. No two teachers are identical.

I remember viewing other Math teachers teach while doing my PG Diploma in Education and what struck me the most was that there was little variation in the way we taught. We were all delivering the same content and though our teaching strategies varied, the way the content was broken down and explained/delivered was very similar.

So why is it that teachers are viewed as better/worse?

The main difference which I noticed from the PG Diped group was the teachers’ “level of nice”. Teachers’ innate qualities uncontrollably stick out when teaching. A nice teacher comes across as nice while saying good morning, stating a definition, giving homework and other mundane tasks. A less nice teacher comes across as such even when doing something kind. We cannot hide our true selves from students. The difference, the more nice you are the less students tend to listen. They seek out their independence within the confines of a classroom setting. A nice teacher isn’t going to reprimand them as often.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that teachers have to be mean to students to get them to listen. They do however have to be less accomodating. Unfortunately, nice people are very accomodating.

Furthermore, being nice is not something one can switch on or off. It is hardwired into our very being from a much younger age.

So while our teaching methods are similar, less nice teachers generally have better student engagement, student participation and are better at classroom management.

So, do nice teachers stand a chance in the teaching profession?

They most certainly do. They can circumvent the problems faced by planning engaging, well-structured lessons together with constantly motivating students. In other words, they have to work twice as hard as less nice teachers.

And who really has the final say in rating a teacher?- The students of course.

Students have different needs

● Some need an organised teacher who delivers the syllabus at a fast pace

● Some need a teacher who will go at a slower pace and provide one on one assistance

● Some need a strict disciplinarian who will bring stability and discipline into their lives- a less nice teacher

● Some need someone approachable who they can talk to and confide in- a nice teacher

And much more…

The problem is one teacher cannot be all these things. Not only will it be time consuming, one’s personality does not allow them to possess all of the qualities/traits.

Needless to say, based on what a student needs and what a teacher provides, the teacher is judged as good/bad.

A perfect teacher does not exist.

We cannot be all every single child needs.

We need other teachers possessing a myriad of personalities, talents and traits. Helping and reaching every child is a team effort.

It is time to drop the labels and stop comparing teachers.