Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Uniquely Burdened"

Last week, I spent the whole week at UALR's AP Summer Institute.  It's an opportunity to learn AP strategies, and teaching strategies in general, from other practicing teachers.  It's also an opportunity to meet teachers from all over the state and hear about their teaching experiences.  One teacher I met there was a woman about my age who had just finished her first year of teaching in Dumas as a Teach for America teacher.  In talking to her about her year, I found out that she, too, was a blogger, and I decided to check out her blog.  In reading her most recent entry, I ran across a term that struck me as applicable to so many aspects of life beyond teaching. 

In this entry, she talked about being in a meeting with other Teach for America teachers who were discussing the ways in which teachers are "uniquely burdened."  Teachers, and I can agree with this wholeheartedly, have this immense personal burden of educating the future of our nation.  I am perfectly aware that the statement I just made sounds melodramatic and maybe even a little silly, but it's true.  Not only do teachers have to produce results on yearly tests, we also have to produce intelligent, productive citizens.  Talk about pressure!

Anyway, this phrase, "uniquely burdened" has been bouncing around in my mind all week.  Sure, teachers feel uniquely burdened, but don't we all feel uniquely burdened everyday?  I think about how many times a week I say "I'm tired," like I'm the only human being who has ever given up sleep to complete a project or fit everything into my day.  I'm not uniquely burdened in my exhaustion. People all over the world work a lot harder than me and probably have a lot less of a payoff.  What makes me feel so "uniquely burdened," so alone in my problem?

I tried to figure that out this week.  Anytime I would start to feel sorry for myself or feel overwhelmed, I reminded myself of how many other people were probably feeling just like me at that particular moment.  Maybe I didn't know them, but I knew there had to be other people with my problem.  No man is an island, and no problem exists in isolation.  The more I thought about my own daily, unique burdens, the more I realized that my problems were so small.  Not only do other people have my problems, but some people would gladly trade in their problems to have mine.  I may be burdened, but I am also so blessed.  My parents are still married and love each other very much.  I have a job and wonderful friends.  I wonder sometimes how I find so much to complain about when I look at my life this way.  So this week, my goal is to remember that I may feel uniquely burdened, but I'm also uniquely blessed.  As human beings, we are so drawn to negativity and the drama that surrounds it.  This week, I will remember that I'm not alone.  And I will value the good things, because there are so, so many of them.

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