Excess Teacher Responsibilities are Stealing Bonding Time with Students

Excess Teacher Responsibilities are Stealing Bonding Time with Students

There’s a long list of tasks I must complete each morning in my classroom. There are objectives to write on the board and lesson plans to spread across my desk. There are copies to make sure I’ve made and attendance cards readily available to mark and send in. There are to-do lists rolling like movie credits inside my head while another teacher asks that I keep an eye on her class for a moment. There are few moments of peace before the librarian stops by to remind me of the missing book from two weeks earlier. Sometimes, before 8 a.m., I feel something like a failure; it’s not even because of the things I’ve yet to accomplish. It’s because, in the wake of the madness, I’ve missed the thirty students who’ve walked into my classroom. I didn’t greet them with a smiley “Good morning”; instead, the first thing they saw upon entering the classroom was my head down at my desk scanning papers or a frantic look on my face while pacing the hallway.

I know I’m supposed to come to my classroom even earlier. 7:20 a.m. apparently isn’t early enough to prepare for the students’ arrival in the next twenty minutes. However, that’s not always possible. Unfortunately, getting up at 5 a.m. doesn’t mean I’ll arrive fresh-faced in my classroom within the hour when I have my own kids to get to their own schools. It’s not that I’m not trying to be present with my students AND organized enough, but truly, it’s asking too much.

These excess responsibilities are taking away my chances to bond with my students. I’ve tried to fight it; I’ve tried to spend my own time checking off tasks so that I could be the teacher I wanted to be, but I often feel like I’m drowning. The teacher I want to be seems just out of reach; she’s buried under detailed lesson plans and written objectives and a handful of meetings.

I keep thinking, “If I just push myself a little more” or “If I just make a little more time in my day.” Then, I push myself until I break, which doesn’t benefit my students either. It’s a never-ending hamster wheel of responsibility and I know I shouldn’t get caught up in it, but I have this idea in my head that I can just teach. I truly just want to teach. I want to give my students my undivided attention and respond to their inquisitiveness with wholehearted answers. I don’t want to be distracted by something else I need to do or someone else I need to be. 

Moving forward, I want to be the teacher whose identity isn’t wrapped up in the tedious tasks and less-impactful things. I want to be the teacher who greets her students at the door despite the to-do list that’s lingering. I want to be the teacher who recognizes that the actions expected of me are often unrealistic; I want to be the teacher who rids herself of frustration and instead gives herself extra grace. I don’t want to be a productivity machine; I just want to be a teacher again.

Excess Teacher Responsibilities are Stealing Bonding Time with Students

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Whitney Ballard is a writer and teacher from small town Alabama. She owns the Trains and Tantrums blog, https://trainsandtantrums.blog/. Whitney went from becoming a mom at sixteen to holding a Master’s degree in Education; she writes about her journey, along with daily life, through a Christian lens on her blog. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the backyard with her husband, two boys, and two dogs.

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