December 31, 2023

Jose Luis Vilson: Tired of Being Tired (Towards a Better 2024)

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Jose Luis Vilson is a teacher, writer and scholar who offers some tips for dealing with the general fatigue of teaching as we head into the new year.

When speaking to teachers, principals, and other educators, it’s evident that people are tired. But they’re also tired of being tired. On paper, the job is still the same. The social and interpersonal parameters of the job have changed significantly. Even so, a significant number of people want to do something wholly new. Here’s a good list of things I’d do in preparation for the new year (applicable in multiple situations):

  1. Make a list of people that merit a one-to-one conversation. If there are any lingering things from 2023 that you haven’t had the energy to address, this is a good time to build up the energy (and talking points) to have the conversation. The break might have cleared their head, too, and help everyone do their work better. The best time for the conversation doesn’t have to be now, but it’s better to do it before the rush of the year hits again.
  2. Write down a small list of commitments and principles for yourself. Did you intend on reflecting every Friday? Or did you want to visit at least one classroom that you rarely get to see? Did you pick up a book that everyone’s talking about? Set the commitment and make it part of your habits. You don’t need to share them with anyone, if that helps. Really, if you did this exercise in the beginning of the year, you can tap back into them. To the extent that you can do right by what makes you a better person, the better.
  3. Find other things outside of education that deeply interest you. Educators often internalize – forcibly or unintentionally – signals suggesting we need to be “on” 24/7. Unfortunately, it also means our spheres of influence (friends, spouses, family members) rarely get a sense of the fullness of our humanity. Pick up that instrument. Take the remainder of the week to binge-watch that series. Look up routes around your school that you’d walk/drive/bike through to get some fresh air. We are more than our work, and we’re better for thinking through that.

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