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I know that teachers are supposed to start their blogs in August and September, not March. In my school district, we are nearing the end of our third quarter. I did want to start a teacher blog. I’d hoped to write about the funny and endearing things my students did. I wanted to share my creative lesson plans and activities. I intended to posit thoughtful gems about human nature and education in general. But none of that happened.

What did happen?

Life fish-slapped me upside the head.

The only things I anticipated about teaching were classroom management difficulties and the long hours of lesson planning and grading. I knew about them ahead of time, so did I prepare for them ahead of time? Not so much.

For one thing, my philosophy of student-centered discipline does not fit into my school’s teacher/reward-driven discipline policy. Therefore, I wasn’t sure exactly how to start the school year. How do I relay my expectations to students who expect a treat or sticker for every action? I didn’t know, so I barely tried. This mistake has had me and my students experiencing excessive frustrations all year.

Secondly, lesson planning and grading, well, it takes practice is all I can say. More than I’ve had, apparently.

But you know what really got me? The one thing I never considered a possibility?

A daily feeling of failure.

I am terrified of failure. Therefore, I cannot help but set high expectations for myself. I rarely meet my personal expectations in a given day. However, I’ve only ever been fully responsible for my personal expectations. Now, I must meet the expectations of 22 third graders. I have to meet their needs. I have to make them feel loved, accepted, and worthy. And I must do this five days a week. It is an impossible task. In my heart of hearts, I know that it is impossible, and I know that if I expect to be everything to every student then failure is my only possible outcome. But what will my life become if I fail? I cannot allow it.

So, back in August when I started teaching, I wanted to blog about my teaching, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. I had no desire to write about my fears and failures. Today, I am writing the blog only because fear is my last driving force. In one month, my students will take their first standardized, high-stakes test. Failure is not an option. I have to support them because I refuse to be the reason one of them fails. My students do not deserve a teacher who fails, and my students do not deserve to fail.