emotions & teaching

Friday, October 25, 2013

please note I do not want anyone to take pity on me for this post... I am just writing for sympathy to other urban teachers, to make others aware, and for my own personal record...

Working in an urban school is much harder than I thought it would be. I anticipated the school year to be tough. Josh worked at the school last year and I saw how exhausted he was every day and heard the dramatic stories and witnessed the defeat all last year. It was certainly hard for me to watch it happen.

So I thought I knew what I was getting myself into.
However, urban education has literally been the most exhausting thing I have ever done. 

I am working on average 12 hours a day.
This obviously creates physical exhaustion that is unexplainable- plain and simple, the first thing I think about when I wake up is how much I will look forward to meeting my bed back again when I return. I absolutely hate that- but my early school day and late nights have driven me to that madness.

Physical exhaustion only adds to my overall exhaustion; My emotional exhaustion is the kind that literally drains me to my bones. Teaching is an emotionally exhausting job and working in an urban school only heightens the fact.

I am constantly giving and giving and giving attention to students- some of these students really do appreciate that. But it is especially emotionally exhausting to give and give and give to students who simply do not care and are not aware that you want them to succeed in life. All I want for my students is for them to acquire the knowledge and skills to succeed in life, so it really pulls yanks on my heart strings to see my students simply not care.

The majority of my students do not read or write on the level that they should be. They are heavily influenced by the culture that surrounds them- a culture that (in general) glorifies drugs, sex, and gang violence. I have volunteered to work in project neighborhoods before. I know the culture well- I know the values. Sadly, education and getting out of poverty is not always one of them. It is emotionally exhausting to see my students come to school with loads of real life issues on their shoulders- my students experience- and have experienced- things that no child should ever have to.

It breaks my heart and at the end of the day, in all honesty, I often feel defeated, my heart feels broken, and my soul is weary.

A dear friend of mine who I look up to so much asked me in the midst of my complaining if there was anything that was good about teaching- This made me stop in the midst of my heated ranting and truly think. Yes the majority of my day is pretty crappy and exhausting and if I hear "This is too much to write" about a single simple sentence one more time I may blow up- but her question made me realize that no matter how emotionally and physically exhausting my day is, I still have moments that make my heart warm again and I see God working. When a student has a light bulb turn on or smiles and tells me "Good Morning Mrs. Hendy," I remember that no, I will not have a Freedom Writers story, but this is my own story and I cling to the fact that no matter how weak I am- HE is strong. And HE is working.

I do not remind myself of this often enough. Hoping one day it will be second nature to do so...

Here is a picture of this week at school- Josh & I dressed up for "Throwback Thursday" for homecoming week...

I gathered up some of my hippie clothes, threw on a hair band & a Vietnam War" jacket, played a little Marvin Gay for my students and called it a day... Josh grabbed his normal clothes & labeled it "grunge 90's" ...

enjoy the weekend!




  1. Thank you for this. I teach at a school in Baltimore City. Undergoing similar situations. Amazing to see God work though. Let's keep looking for those little glimpses of Jesus in our kids. After all, through all their baggage, they are also made in God's image.

    God bless.

  2. Thank you so much for this sweet comment and reminder... hope your year goes well!


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