During my work as a Vice Principal, I very vividly remember seeing Kiersten sitting in the office next to my door day in and day out. Kiersten was having a very difficult time with friend-related issues, as many middle school students do. I spent hours, and I mean HOURS, working with this young woman and her family, getting to know her and her family, building a relationship with her and her family, meeting with her during frequent crisis moments, facilitating restorative conferences when friend issues arose... all of it. Anything she needed, I was there. Because I cared. I cared very deeply for Kiersten and her well-being and overall success in school, but also as a human being. She would often make mistakes, as kids do, then make great strides, then make mistakes, then make great strides, and the cycle would go on and on and on. Then one day, after the 165th time and 78th hour I had met with her, I came in from supervising the group of 700 middle school students at lunch and saw her sitting next to my office. Again.
I needed a break.
I loved Kiersten dearly, but she was driving me crazy.
I walked into my office, shut the door, took a deep breath, then went to one of my colleagues and asked if he could work with her today. Again, I loved her dearly, but I needed a break.
Anyone who is invested in the world of education and/or parenting can empathize with this feeling and this notion of kids driving us crazy. My daughter is another example. She is the love and light of my life, but every now & then she frustrates me, as kids do. I wouldn't trade her or my relationship with her for the world, but the reality is, when you spend a lot of time with someone, or multiple people, you're bound to get on each others' nerves.
It's human nature.
I remember during that time a colleague asking me if it was okay to feel that way, and/or to express my frustrations.
"100%!!! As long as you're expressing your frustration in a respectful and constructive way."
My colleague looked at me like I was crazy - like I should be 100% happy and excited and joyful about every single interaction I had with my students 100% of the time. This sounds lovely in theory, but unfortunately this is not the reality. If everyone in education was 100% happy and excited and joyful about every single student and interaction they had in the world of education, we wouldn't be having such a problem retaining them. According to Wall Street Journal, teachers are quitting their jobs at the highest rate on record.
I'm not saying that the kids and various behavior issues are the reasons teachers are leaving, but the massive paradigm shift we're experiencing in education with said behavior-related issues is causing the workplace to be more challenging than ever before. Combine that with other issues like pay, politics and high-stakes testing, it's a recipe for a lot of burnout and frustration.
It's a problem, and one that I care so deeply about that I felt compelled to put together a set of tools, strategies and tips/resources for people in the business of education, so we can give students the support and guidance they are so desperately craving.
These Kids Are Driving Me Crazy outlines various aspects of the profession and ways to manage the challenging reality of today's schools, in an effort to help reduce teacher burnout and retain the much-needed high-quality teachers in the profession.
I've had too many conversations with too many colleagues in the last 13 years about frustrations, challenges, and burnout, and I've seen too many high-quality teachers leave because they just can't hang anymore with all of the challenges educators face today.
I feel so strongly about this that I would like every single teacher in America to have a copy of my book so they can know that they have someone on their side who has been through the exact same challenges that they are experiencing right now.
I get it.
I get you.
You're not alone, and I'm here to help in whatever way "help" looks like to you.
At the very least, please download a free copy of my book so you can read about my experiences and incredibly trying situations that I encountered during my time in the profession, as well as ways I coped with these situations throughout my 13 years in the business.