You’ve likely heard someone say that teachers should “beg, borrow, and steal.” Another variation is that “teachers are the worst thieves.” (These suggestions are sometimes accompanied by a little laugh—maybe because teachers are presumed to be natural rule followers? Lots to unpack there, but that’s for another day.)
As with a lot of teaching advice, the basic premise of the suggestion is useful: The teachers around you have developed procedures and tricks through years of experience. There’s a good chance that one of them has found a solution to whatever problem you’re dealing with. There is no honor in reinventing the wheel.
But—also as with a lot of teaching advice—the “beg, borrow, steal” nugget only takes you so far.
If you signed up for the Disillusionment Power Pack during your first year of teaching, you already know what season it is.
The Disillusionment Phase, a term first coined by Ellen Moir as part of the Phases of First-Year Teaching, describes the drop in morale that first-year teachers experience between mid-October and Thanksgiving. This is the time frame in which new teachers are most likely to burst into tears in public, type up resignation letters “just in case,” or fantasize about breaking an ankle so they can miss a few weeks of work.
“The reason you’re waking up in the middle of the night is the second glass of wine.”
-Nora Ephron, in the essay What I Wish I’d Known from the book I Feel Bad About My Neck.
There are lots of jokes about how seemingly-wholesome activities, like teaching and parenting, can drive people to drink. Bring on the memes. Bring on the teacher movie cliches where the just-damaged-enough-to-be-unconventional teacher shows up to work hung over or stashes a bottle of tequila in a desk drawer.
Organizational psychologist Adam Grant has a wonderful book called Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.
This concept often makes some level of intuitive sense as soon as you hear it, but there’s more to the concept, and I highly recommend Grant’s 14-minute TED talk: Are you a giver or a taker?
Staring at an infinite to-do list can take a toll on your motivation. But I don’t have to tell you that. Here are a few sticking points that might be making your list unmanageable. Plus, how to get (closer to) a list of things that are actually doable—and then done.