My first two years of teaching I consistently put in 12 hour work days just trying to keep up with the grading and planning. The third and fourth years were a bit better at school, but during that time I was working on my masters degree online, so life was just as chaotic and busy, if not more so.
The statistics that follow new teachers are absolutely mind-boggling. According to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, about 50% of teachers leave the profession in their first five years. HALF! That includes about 10% of teachers that leave before the end of their first year. The Huffington Post says that the top five reasons teacher turnover rates are so high include 1. Poor working conditions and few resources, 2. High pressure from standardized testing, 3. Low wages with teachers making an average of 35,000 a year, 4. Threat of layoffs since tens of thousands of teachers have lost their jobs in the last few years, and 5. Burnout from working extended hours.
I am currently in my fifth year of teaching and for the first time, I’m finishing the school day not always feeling frazzled and exhausted. I’m going home at 3:45 and not taking any work with me. I have time to *gasp* watch a tv show now and then. This newfound sense of peace might be because of my classroom is set up with no desks. It might be because of the really great group of students I have this year. It might be because I have been teaching the same curriculum for three years in a row and I finally know what I’m doing. Most likely it is a combination of all those things.
Whatever it may be, I am so thankful I stuck with it and showed diligence (which is our school character trait this month 😉 ) because I really do love what I do. No, it is not always a walk in the park. I still have a million meetings to attend, stacks of seemingly endless, and sometimes pointless, paperwork to complete and a myriad of other hoops to jump through. But through it all, I have a whole slew of amazing kiddos that I have the privilege of getting to know and getting to love on, and that makes it all worth it.
SO if you are still in your first five years of teaching, or you are just having a really rough school year, my advice to you is to stick with it. It just keeps getting better every year.