And I feel alone.
But then, as we work in small groups and begin to collaborate, an amazing sixth grade teacher shares how she's feeling.
"They just gave us four new things we're supposed to implement. At first, they said that these were options and then they were tights," she says.
"You look overwhelmed," I respond.
"Being compliant is making me the kind of teacher I don't want to be. There are so many tights," she laments.
"I always thought that the number of tights was supposed to be low, but in some schools, there are more tights than a ballet," I point out.
As we each continue to talk, I am struck by the fact that we are all struggling right now. It's a hard time of the year for teachers. The brutal benchmark tests are just a few months away and well-intentioned bureaucrats are creating a list of mandates for teachers to accomplish. Underachieving teachers are being shamed while high-achieving teachers are feeling pressured. It's the time of the year when the copy machine starts breaking and it's still dark in the morning and the cold seems to hang in there well past its end date.
Teachers aren't burnt out right now, but in general, they are tired and stressed. They don't need a ton of new professional development. They're not looking for new initiatives. They don't need reminders about the importance of their data. What they need, more than anything else, is a little more affirmation.
John Spencer is a teacher, author, keynote speaker, and incessant doodler. He is the co-author of Wendell the World's Worst Wizard and the co-founder of Write About, a new social publishing platform due out this Fall. He is passionate about helping students find their voice as they grow into stronger writers and deeper thinkers.