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RE: Teacher burnout - more last words - and a solution....?


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Mar 08 2003 - 05:40:12 PST

> I can't say enough for how rejuvenated I have been on such
> adventures. Learning new skills, having all day every day just for ME,
> being in the company of like minds, it's a form of spirituality to be in
> beautiful surroundings and be creative at the same time....that's
> heaven. Linda

What has been key for me, is to be somebody aside from teaching. My life
has been wrapped up being an artist and a musician. Even a twelve year
break in teaching traveling as both a musician and artist, now into my 4th
year back into the classroom. Having this sense of "having a life" outside
the classroom has been great. As spring and summer approaches, I'll have
gigs to play solo, and a blues band out of Green Bay whom I play blues
harmonica for, some guitar; doing festivals and events.

Over the years I created a multi-media computer where I not only have
photoshop and arts stuff, but an entire virtual recording studio thru Sonar
2 and Direct Pro. I write my own songs, produce my own cd's...and
artistically my own jewel cases and inserts. The ironies and stuff of life
always produces ideas for new songs and an outlet to keep sanity in the
classroom. The flip side surprise is that building my computer knowledge as
I have in unrelated classroom stuff, I've made myself an asset to the school
with technology.

But, I've not been able really ever to put my guard down. Being an art
teacher in Wisconsin has for me never put me on a level playing field with
other teachers. When it comes to scheduling (as we did yesterday) for up
and coming years...the "elective" teachers don't count of course as much as
the core academic people. With state deficits as they sometimes
can't take life too serious. Our district has to cut $300,000 from the
budget next year. A town of 1,000 people...K-12 school of 300 kids. I hear
my job is pretty secure, but our band teacher is probably gone. We'll lose
an administrator/teacher I hear as well...

So, what I'm saying is, I've never been able to allow myself the luxury to
see teaching as a "forever" thing. My 4th year in, and I've not felt
comfortable enough to look for a house to buy. If I lose my job...there's
not much here in the northwoods, 'cept driving a logging truck...(though I
see they are looking for a graphic artist at a local tribal casino!).

So...I keep a sense of humor. I remember who I artist and musician
whom happens to be a good art teacher. I maintain membership in a national
prestigious plein air painter's group...look forward to a show I'm in at the
New York national arts building coming up in 2005, and Linda...I can
certainly concur that standing before nature with my painter's easel is very
much rejuvenating, refreshing, liberating, re-inventing. The creative
process acts as a vehicle to engage, embrace, and celebrate life. It is
very much a spiritual experience for me as well...though I won't go into
depth about that here.

If there is burnout for is that of getting a bit tired of fighting
to maintain my privilege to teach in lieu of our minor passing glance from
the state. I'm not getting any younger (48 yrs) and if I have any chance of
owning a home and having most of it paid off before retiring I can't delay
too much longer. Yet...I don't see buying very sensible at this time.
So..half the house we have rented the past four years is yet filled with
boxes from 16 years of living in two homes owned prior. That gets old for
me...but not the challenge of taking what I do as an artist, and attempt to
pass the joy of that on along to the kids.

Larry Seiler
My website, featuring both my artistic and musical personalities-

"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!"
Edgar Degas