So You Had A Bad Day….

…or Why You Should Keep A Journal:

Today was the first day back to school, and all in all it was a good day. Nothing real groundbreaking happened, for good or ill. So why, when the final bell rang at 3:10, did I feel so lousy? Why the hopelessness? Why the frustration?

I have nothing to grade (right now..135 essays will roll in on Thursday); I’m caught up on reading (kind of…still have to read Kite Runner and Black Boy); I’m planned through the next two weeks (except for the test I have to write and the copies I need to run). Yet I drove home wanting to “quit my job and move to Florida.” My sister always tells me to do that when I’m having a bad day.

I came home and watched some of Oprah, and had a little something to eat, and then I pulled out my teacher journal. This journal has entries from my first six years of teaching high school, and I thought maybe I would find something there to help me feel better. Here is what I found:

Sept. 5, 2000: “I can’t do this anymore.”

Nov. 7, 2001: “Bad teacher day. I feel like I’m not even close to making these kids understand how to write.”

Jan. 22, 2003: “Five good things about teaching. 1. Get to play piano w/ Ellen.” (2-5 are blank)

Sept. 29. 2004: “Okay day, but I left school feeling so overwhelmed and inadequate.”

March 16, 2005: “This place has become a vacuum of joy.”

Of course there were positive things written; little anecdotes here and there about funny or intelligent things my students said, or how I was finally getting the hang of the curriculum. And what my friend Dave told me the first year I taught at West, in 2002, that I needed to give it four years before gaining a true sense of ownership over what I teach.

Today wasn’t a bad day, and while I left the building feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and overall disappointed, I came home and read about how I’d been there before. And I read about how it got better. And I’m nothing if not consistent, so even American Lit will get better. And tomorrow will probably be even a little bit better as well.

5 thoughts on “So You Had A Bad Day….

  1. “This place has become a vacuum of joy”….oh mySimilarly, I often find myself, when frustrated at work, muttering “I quit” just under my breath. (That’ll show’em Mike)I’ve started and quickly stopped several “pen to paper” journals over the years… very under the radar blog seems to have taken over a traditional journals role for me.

  2. yesterday one of the facebook friends asked the masses if anyone had a good day. apparently bad days were all the rage yesterday. here in ut i think snow was the main agitator. as for me – i wound up with a back ache by the time i got home – the number one indicator that i’m suffering undue stress. i better schedule a massage ASAP.

  3. Oh so sorry it was a bad day! And while moving near your sister would be lovely, I never recommend moving to Florida – unless I just don’t like someone. You’ll love Kite Runner though – the movie stays close to the book too. I hope today was better!

  4. If tomorrow isn’t better, I say stick with the “quit your job and move to Florida” plan.But I’m selfish. Your room is ready when you are 🙂

  5. Mike–glad to know other professions get frustrating too.Sarah–one of the New Year’s decisions was to schedule a massage once a month. Thanks for the reminder!Deb–thanks for the Kite Runner endorsement…it is getting good!Deanne–okay. I’ll be there tomorrow.

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