dealing with teacher guilt

I shouldn’t be writing this. I should be doing my research. In fact, I want to do my research, even right now.

But there’s some thing else nagging me, something I can’t seem to get out of my head this quarter. I have this overriding sense of guilt that despite all of the efforts I make to be a passionate, engaged, and thoughtful teacher, it’s not enough. I see signs of this every day when my students express confusion, frustration, and anxiety about the things I say, the assignments I give, and the deadlines I set. I’m doing this to them. I’m the one causing their pain and suffering, their sleepless nights. Did they really consent to this? What gives me the right?

Of course, these thoughts are mostly silly. Of course they consented to this: they know what school is. I might see glimpses of confusion and frustration, but I also see classrooms full of nodding, laughter, understanding and excitement. I see them struggling, overcoming, and ultimately learning as they jump through the hoops I design. I may be causing them acute sleep depravation, but I’m helping them convert exhaustion into invaluable knowledge and skills. Right?

I think so. But watching my students go through such turbulent emotional states is still such a visceral experience for me, it’s felt much more critical and immediate in the past six months than the research goals I have for this year. Summer quarter will be a nice reprieve, a three month from hiatus from the constant tradeoff between excellent teaching and excellent research.

Actually, make that two months and three weeks. I have a new course to design for the fall and I don’t know how to half-ass it!

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