The Mythology of Teaching

“Oh my gosh, you work so many long hours. You must do incredible things in your classroom.”

“Boy, your car is parked when I walk into school in the morning and when I leave every night. You really work hard.”

“You’re always running around, you must really be working hard.”

These are things that I hear teachers say to one another daily to commend each other for what looks like hard work. Teachers who support one another in the mythology that to be an excellent teacher, one must give up their personal life, that they must look like they are running around, that they should have the appearance of being overly busy and stressed. This mythology has GOT to stop or we are going to continue to lose our newbie teachers from burnout.

The truth of the matter is that even those of us who hold it together and who look like we are not overly stressed are just as overwhelmed as those who are running around feeding into the mythology. The difference? I do not want to emit negative energy, I do not want to bring “stressed” energy into my life. I want to feel calm, so I try to behave in a calm way.

A colleague of mine told me today that another teacher’s view of me is that I don’t work hard, that I have it easy. So here’s my question: why can’t we just be supportive of one another? Why must we judge each other based on our own truths?

The mythology we have set up for ourselves is that if we don’t lose ourselves in our profession, then we are not worthy teachers. How about we change this narrative?

I propose we change it to: let’s do our best. Let’s keep things positive and loving for our students. This means teachers love themselves enough to treat themselves and each other like everyone is doing the best they can.

What’s your narrative? What would you change about the mythology around teaching?