It’s the middle of the 3rd quarter.
(This is not about basketball)
Of the school year.
The weather is blah. The time change is coming. It’s dark when we get to school and sometimes dark when we leave. The kids are worn down. I am tired and the routine that usually feels comforting feels instead stifling.
Is there progress?
Will the music ever sound better?
Will the students ever learn their parts?
Will I ever see an empty email inbox?
Will I ever dance again? Guilty feet got no rhythm, though it’s easy to pretend I know you’re not a fool. Why George Michael, why?
So many questions…
I’m racked with doubts and insecurities about the ensembles, the pacing and quality of my lessons, the disheveled appearance of my clothing…everything is up for internal debate.
17 years and these moments still come up. But I’ve gotten better at knowing the ebbs and flows and how to take care of myself and my students when it feels like an hour can last a day.
A few of my ideas for keeping it (read: ME) together:
- Don’t deny the feelings. For me trying to pretend I’m not tired or stressed or irritated is useless.
- Give yourself a break if a rehearsal doesn’t go well. Give your students a break if a rehearsal doesn’t go well.
- While maintaining professional boundaries, address the elephant in the room. If you and the students are feeling it, acknowledge it and then work on moving through it (notice I didn’t say past it?) together.
- Change up your routine with the ensemble. Modify the rehearsal set up, bring in a guest clinician or local university director to work with your group. Take one rehearsal to read something new if you are in a rut with your current repertoire.
- Reach out to a colleague for venting, collaborating, questioning and general mental health keeping. Chances are you are not feeling this madness alone!
- Take time to remember and focus on any one of the things that bring you joy in your teaching.
- Do something for yourself. Massage, dinner out, shopping, read a book, take a nap, binge watch The Golden Girls…or all of the above? I have just given away my perfect Saturday.
I’m coming out on the other side of several weeks of feeling slumpy. Teaching is still happening. The ensembles are getting better. Things are running according to plan. It just hasn’t felt great, hasn’t had that special energy that keeps me coming back time after time. But thankfully these feelings aren’t forever.
The clouds in my mind are clearing. Year 1 or year 20 you’ll always have tough patches. We all go through them and we are never alone, ok?
Be well and take care of yourself! You are important to so many.