SingTeach looks at Sharon Draper’s candid but heartfelt work, Not Quite Burned Out But Crispy Around the Edges: Inspiration, Laughter, and Encouragement for Teachers.
It’s the end of the school year and the madness has come to an end. Sure, there’s still some marking to do, next semester’s lessons to plan for, and assorted additional activities to complete but essentially, the burdens of the semester are almost over and one feels entitled to put up one’s feet for a bit.
And so, with great relief, teachers throughout Singapore slowly relax. Most deservedly so, too. After all, their burdens are undeniably heavy, their hours long, and their duties almost unending.
More than one would undoubtedly also ask themselves: are the rewards still as great?
For the answer would be an unequivocal “Yes”. Draper is an educator, young adult novelist, motivational speaker and a poet. She was one of the first teachers in the United States to achieve National Board Certification in English/Language Arts and is actively involved in encouraging and motivating both teachers and students.
Teachers are people who “tread upon a rocky path. Pebbles of limitations, restrictions, and regulations get between our toes, stones of apathy, failure, and futility trip us and make us fall, and huge boulders of violence, prejudice, and inequity block the path completely” (p. 57). Despite this, teachers struggle on, hoping to find diamonds in the rough and trying to turn them into polished gems.
For many, “it’s hard to see the big picture – how we figure in the vastness of educational goals and curriculum concepts” (p. 83). We feel like “a pie that has been left in the oven a little too long. [The] crust, which was once baked to perfection, is starting to show signs of being overcooked. Too much heat and too much pressure for way too long” (p. 9).
And so, we’re “not quite burned out, but [we are] getting a little crispy around the edges” (p. 9).
Draper’s book of inspirational stories helps us remember why we chose to become teachers. With laughter and the occasional tear, she points out that teachers should never forget that they are the ones who reach out and touch children in a way that even their parents do not. She acknowledges that though the road is long and the journey difficult, there is always hope and joy along the way.