Teaching Middle School, Week 6: Depleted


I hoped that after a week off, in a week of only four days, that I would turn the corner on this exhaustion.

That I’d have some stamina. That I wouldn’t be depleted after each day.

I was wrong.

This week was tough.

After Tuesday, the first day back, I came home with aching, tired feet and legs. On Wednesday, I added an aching back.

And both those days were tough emotionally and spiritually, too.

I wondered then – I wonder now – if I’m cut out to be a teacher.

I like discussion and sharing. That’s what teaching is to me – sharing what I love, sharing what I’ve learned, hearing what my students think.

But I don’t know if that’s what kids want and need today.

I felt that shifting when I quit teaching high school several years ago.

And it seems to have shifted even more since then.

Kids can learn so much on their own with computers and smart phones at their fingertips. Maybe they no longer need teachers . . .  but instead need facilitators.

And I’m a teacher.

My gift is sharing and guiding and discussing.

And that’s not what I get to do now.

I have to corral and sometimes harangue. I have to be at top awareness at each moment. I can’t let my guard down for even a second it seems.

Maybe that’s why I’m so tired each day.

I started last week at about 100% physically. I felt rested for the first time since early January.

I finally felt like myself.

And that didn’t last even a day.

By Friday afternoon, I was at less than 25% physically. My legs and feet and back hurt. I had to drag myself to the car. And when I had to stop off for a prescription, I chose the drive-through because I didn’t know if I had the energy to walk into the store and stand in line. So, of course, they didn’t have the medicine I needed. And when I went to another store the drive-through line was at least six deep. And inside, once I’d dragged myself to the back of the store to the prescription counter, I had to stand in line. Then I had to wait while a pharmacist filled the prescription. And I had to stand in line again.

“No big deal,” you think.

Well, back before cancer, back when I was healthy – even when I was sick I had more energy than I had on Friday.

And yes, when I was in the throes of chemo and radiation and for months afterward, I did have even less energy than I had on Friday afternoon. Lots less.

But all I did this past week was teach for four days – not endure cancer treatment for eight months. I was on my feet a lot, but not the entire day.

When will I get some stamina??

And, more worrying for me, will I ever get more stamina?

I’m only a third of the way to the end of school in May. I worry if I can make it.

I’m in bed by 8 PM every night. You’d think that would be enough.

But it’s not. I slept 12 hours both Friday night and last night.

I do feel a lot better today. I had no problem standing in a long line at the grocery store this afternoon.

But tomorrow I’ll be back in the classroom.

That’s an exhausting place.

I sure hope it gets better, that I get some stamina.

Because life is not enjoyable when I’m depleted all of the time.

I know I have a finite time here on this earth. Do I want to spend it in a state of depletion?


Back in my first 18 or 19 years of teaching, working with kids was energizing. I hardly ever left school feeling depleted.

But I sure do now. Most of the time.

I’m not sure what that means for my future as a classroom teacher . . .

Please send me some good vibes.

And please send up some prayers that I’ll be guided into a way that I can use my gifts to help make this world a better place. That I find a path that doesn’t deplete me – or that I find a way to teach now and not be depleted.

Either one. I don’t have a preference.

I just don’t want to feel so depleted so much of the time.

Sacred Heart, Cullman, AL June 2009 063

Magnolia bud




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