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Overflowing Buckets

Community Team
Community Team
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I’m in the middle of my 12th year of teaching in a classroom, and there are days I feel are more challenging than some I experienced early in my career. I know I’m not alone. This year is downright difficult some days, and even after 20-months of teaching during a pandemic, we’re constantly addressing unknowns and feeling overwhelmed.

Last week, a colleague shared a wonderfully truthful article titled This is the Hard part of Teaching. It’s Getting Harder by Peter Greene of Forbes. I also found a post by Jennifer Gonzales of Cult of Pedagogy called Barely Hanging On.

The visualization that Peter Greene created stood out to me; my bucket of responsibilities is constantly overflowing, yet I feel the pressure (extrinsic and intrinsic) to do more, to be better. I know that this emotion isn’t sustainable, it’s heavy. Something needs to change so I don’t feel like I’m letting down my students or myself.

The metaphorical weight of this bucket is notably much heavier than the “bucket” of joy for my career. It’s hard to admit that so publicly when I am so passionate about what I teach.

Sure, a nice cup of coffee with a friend who is willing to listen would be wonderful. That contributes to the bucket of joy a little. Temporarily, so would a raise. However, neither will outweigh the challenges that I acknowledge every day. (While each educator may have their own set of challenges or frustrations, I’m sure there are commonalities!) As both Greene and Gonzales said, we’re not seeking for rewards or tokens. We need to receive things that reach deeper, that help us take care of ourselves so we can sustain the work ethic and enthusiasm we desire. Ultimately, we need our bucket of challenges to be emptied slightly, or we need our bucket of joy to see more replenishment.

Right now, it probably doesn’t help that our networks seem to focus on what’s wrong or needs improvement rather than highlighting and celebrating what is going well or successes. I’ve noticed this in my PLNs on social media. I’ve noticed it in work correspondence. I know we’re exhausted, but I can’t help but wonder how we’d feel if everyone deliberately tried to release more positive energy and optimism into their work/learning environments. 


How do you stay motivated? How do you keep your bucket from overflowing...or, how do you accept making compromises? How do you find joy?

Let’s use Padlet -- Fill it up with ideas that keep you going, especially those that get you through the most difficult days! It would be an amazing resource to share with teacher friends or to bookmark for yourself when your buckets need a little more balance. 

Feel free to comment, discuss, or share articles below this post. #CommunityStrong