Have Exhaustion, Will Teach

It’s not easy, but there’s still teaching to be done!

teacher energy

The fidget spinners are gyrating at full speed. It’s taking an extra two minutes to get kids to settle down at the beginning of class, and they’re starting to pack up five minutes earlier as well. The chatting, pranks, bottle flipping, yelling, sleeping, squirming, lethargy, and craziness are at an all-time high. My teacher energy is at an all-time low. 

No Tired Like Teacher Tired

We are in the final month of the school year. And, to be completely honest, I’m tempted to give my students an hour reading time daily, while I sit behind my desk and count the days on my calendar. I’m tempted to pretend I did not hear that stray F-word from the back of the room. If you teach elementary, you might be tempted to host day-long recess for the rest of the year. Just let the kids scream and fidget all they want outside.

My teacher energy, and likely yours, for certain battles is sapped.

No Energy Like Teacher Energy

When I start to feel like this, I make myself return to what my job is as a teacher. My classroom is a place where students come to learn—hopefully about the world, themselves, language arts, and each other. And I’ve spent the last nine months creating a culture where this learning can take place.

  • My students learned early in the school year what respect means in my room and why they shouldn’t cross the line. Disrespect has consequences. 
  • We’ve established bottle flipping is not allowed—not because it’s evil—but because it annoys most people, and we shouldn’t be annoying.
  • My students know that my class can be fun, but fun usually has a purpose.
  • They know to raise their hands to speak—not because it’s a rule—but because we don’t talk over each other.
  • And my students know we don’t read because I said so. We read to see the world in a new light.

I worked hard all year long establishing what a healthy, engaging, and worthwhile learning environment looks like, and despite my temptation to slack, I cannot let that hard work go to waste.

So I’ll teach To Kill a Mockingbird through the end of the year. Its themes have the potential to change the way my students see the world, and maybe plant the seeds for civil rights activists to emerge from my classroom. Helping them find those themes will require thought and energy, but I want my students to leave my room in June stronger, smarter, and more resilient, respectful human beings. If that means I have to tap into my teacher energy reserves for one more month, that’s what I’ll do.

Posted by Trevor Muir

Trevor is the author of The Epic Classroom: How to Boost Engagement, Make Learning Memorable, and Transform Lives. He is a professor, speaker, and runs the Facebook page, The Epic Classroom. He believes life should not be boring; school either.

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