I recently read another great post from Dave Dodgson (http://www.davedodgson.com/2012/05/loss-of-momentum.html) about the slow and gradual decline of learner enthusiasm, as exams become the main focus and learning fatigue takes hold after a long school year. I had certainly started to notice this in my own classes, but more worryingly I have started to notice it in the staff room, too. This is especially true of my own approach to planning and general attitude to classes.
It’s not just the learners who are struggling towards the end of the year. As teachers, we have worked late, worked weekends, marked homework, set up mock exams, blogged, spoken to parents, attended PD sessions and conferences and genuinely gone out of our way to make our lessons positive learning experiences.
This decline in motivation is only a recent one, but on Monday I spent an hour and a half staring at a course book, devoid of inspiration. I had no clue what I was going to do, no new ideas, no energy to search through the library and source some materials or scour the Internet for lesson plans that would probably need adapting anyway. I was lethargic and tired of the same old routine and material. When I was in the lesson, everything was fine. I got the usual buzz, which I hope never leaves, but the before and after seems like a slow and cheerless grind towards the end of term. Is this normal? Is it just me, or do other teachers get this feeling?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I care about my students and their learning, but when they have that feeling of apathy in class it’s hard not to get sucked into that depressing atmosphere yourself and it requires even more energy to get the class enthused and excited about the lesson. Energy that I no longer have. Energy that is propped up on coffee and the thought of the weekend.
A colleague said to me today that work seems to be getting in the way of life at the moment. I completely understood where she was coming from. We immerse ourselves so deeply in our work at times (I certainly know I have this year) that when we come up for air and take a look around we realise we have a life to lead. At times, I have felt guilty about having a life and often felt that I should be doing some sort of planning or reading up about a particular language point to make sure I could give my students the best lesson I could. This train of thought lead to the end of my last relationship and I’m damn sure I won’t allow it to affect my next one. A healthy balance, like anything in life, is of vital importance. A lesson certainly learned this year.
I’m pretty sure it’s not just me. Staff room talk is no longer about up coming projects and future lessons, but the summer and where to go on holiday. There seems to be a lull in the blogosphere at the moment (unless your name is Chia Suan Chong) and as Phil Wade has pointed out, a large part of our PLN has gone underground and all is quiet on the twitter front. Is it expected that teachers should be highly motivated and giving the normal 100% effort 24hrs a day? We are human after all, we have our limits, we have our needs.