At least once a week I ask this question: “Am I really making a difference?” I don’t ask it out loud. Sometimes it’s so subtle that I’m not sure if I really want to know. But every educator asks the question sometimes. I just find myself asking it more often lately.
No, I’m not looking for a pat on the back or even an affirmation that I’m really functioning well. Mostly I’m wondering if I’m “doing enough” or “making my work worth it”.
Do you ever feel that way?
So why do we question our ability when we know we’re doing the job?
Because the true educator is never satisfied with pretty good or finished. The true educator tries to find a better way or a more engaging topic. The lesson plan always evolves.
It feels like a restlessness. It might come across as if I’m unhappy with my job. I’m not. Not really. Mostly I’m feeling as if I could do more. Help more. Facilitate more. Listen more. Communicate more. Care more. Okay, answer fewer emails and phone calls!
Yet, I’m passionate about learning. My learning, my students’ learning and the teachers around me learning. But I can’t do it all. There. I said it. “I can’t do it all”. Not at work. Not at home. Not anywhere. So I start to feel like less than what I am. Silly, right?!?
Maybe you’re nodding in agreement right now. It’s okay. All educators feel it. Even you. Maybe especially you.
So do we look for a different job? Always. Do we change up what we do? You bet. Do we try to stop long enough to let the truth sink in? Probably not enough. The truth, friend, is that we are burned out. Our emotional bank is overdrawn. Our light is dimming under the bushel basket. And our energy is depleted.
Does that stop us? Briefly. Or maybe it paralyzes you like it can me.
So I cope. And I look for jobs. And I realize that I am what I do. I AM a teacher. I AM a coach. I AM a mentor. And all of those things meld together nicely in my life.
Do I need a change of scenery? Maybe. Do I need to reinvent myself yet again? Maybe. But the bottom line is that I love people. People of all kinds. People who need me just as much as I need them. To quote Barbra Streisand, “People who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.”
So, am I really making a difference? I think I am. Are you making a difference? Don’t be afraid, speak up. Tell someone. Tell me. We are stronger together.
Did someone say vacation?!?