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Are slumps normal?

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Are slumps normal?

I care about my students, I’m dedicated to my job and I think I’m somewhat competent at what I do. But as the days drag on, as the slush turns to ice, then back to slush again, I’m beginning to sense a loss of energy and enthusiasm.

Some folks swear it’s because of “The Long Night” out here— it’s dark when you go to work in the morning and dark when you finally leave to go home. Other suggest it’s just post-holiday, mid-year stress. I don’t know what it is. But it needs to go. On top of feeling low and anxious, I feel guilty for feeling low and anxious.

So much of teaching is personality driven. Children are so perceptive and feed off our energy. It's so important to go to work with a clear mind. I know that I need to reengage my students and myself with our big goals. Field trips and new projects would help. And a Family Involvement event would probably get me back into the groove. But in the meantime, I know exactly how my sullen 14-year-olds are feeling when they say they don't have the energy for school.

9 Comments

Slumps are normal--if they're not more than a couple of weeks. For someone like you, in a new job in a new place, a slump is especially noticeable because it follows a period of high adrenaline--the excitement of the job and the thrill of the move. And yes, the post-holiday thing is a factor as well. Get plenty of sleep, eat well, find laughter each day, and let your students know you are feeling a little "fallow," and no doubt so are they. Change the routines a little and with spring you will probably feel very much better again. And the next year you teach, the highs and lows won't be as extreme. My two cents after 27 years of this!

Hi Jessica,

Every January for 35 years, I always felt down too! It was the only time of year it ever happened. I cherish my memories of each of those years; I won't trade them for anything.

I always attributed it to the hours of darkness (Northeastern Ohio winters are cold and grey), and the ending of a semester. So I made a big deal of each new semester, of the opportunity to begin anew for my students and for me!

And spring came--

Best,
Lani

Yes, slumps are normal. Mine always came in March, the longest month with no long weekends. I dragged along just as March did trying to leave winter behind. During March, I wrote, rewrote, and carried around my letter of resignation. I told my administrators to hang on to it if I turned it in because I would want to tear it up when spring came. After a few years of this, I decided to teach my best unit which required the least amount of work for me yet was fun for all in March. We did creative writing. We wrote stories and formula poems. The artists among us provided the graphics. Sometimes I asked the art teacher to invite her students to enhance our writings with their illustrations. We always produced a book which we were proud of and we shared with others. Once you recognize your "slump times," find ways to help yourself hang-on until spring comes.

Hi Jessica,
Yes, slumps are normal especially when someone is working as hard as you are. :) I hope today's snow day (which I'm pretty confident I heard your school had off) is helping you have a little more energy to get beyond your slump. In the mean time, while we're waiting to reschedule a classroom observation, let's set a date to chat. I'm thinking we can look through data, celebrate some of the successes, and focus in on finding steps that will reenergize you and work on finding that focus on what it'll take to get your students to make those accomplishments they need to make by the end of the year. Hang in there! I'm completely confident you'll get past this and wake up with excitement that reminds you of why you love teaching.
Rachel

RESPONSE:
Nope, Rachel, while the rest of the area was out playing in the snow, we were at school!

Jessica,

I am thinking a lot about what you said-- how personality and who you are on the inside comes through in your teachinig. Check out the book I just started called The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer. It might resonate with you too. The spirits of teachers need just as much nourishment as their skill sets and methodologies.

Be well,

Ilana

This is my first year teaching full time - after many years in other professions - and slumps are normal, but particularly noticeable in people driven creative problem solving. Teaching is mentally exhausting work, so slumps are inevitable.

Disciplined diet, exercise, rest and recreation will help it pass faster - trying to "Boot strap" out of it usually doesn't help. I've actually been in a culture shock that's finally beginning to lift, so take care of yourself and keep digging!

- Bob

I hope so! Because I'm sure in one!

I usually manage to hide it pretty well, but I know they can tell I'm a bit cranky, and yesterday (Valentine's Day) was the worst! Someone said they were riled up because of the holiday, but I hear excuses like that SO often, it's hard to take these days.

And, when they leave scraps of paper over every inch of my floor, along with pencils, and balls of paper, I wonder if I'm teaching high school or 2nd grade.

Hey!
I am a Program Director in NYC who supports 42 special ed. teachers. I just found out about your blog and I am super excited to read up on how you have been doing!

I love special educators so it is great to see you fighting the good fight.

Keep up the great work!

-Naomi

PS-Yes, slumps are normal!

duhhh

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