You know that feeling of having survived an entire semester comfortably, and you’ve gone through 3/4 of your final exams when THAT sudden moment occurs in which you wearily wonder how on earth you’ll have the energy to do just that one more final exam? Believe it or not, teachers experience it, too… within the last two weeks of teaching. The following was written in THAT moment.
After a laboratory activity in which my students observed the changes to a fuse filament under increasing current, I, too, couldn’t help feeling like a fuse myself.
Like the current intensity – the demands, duties, obligations, increased tasks, last minute requests, and rising levels of anxiety from my surroundings, have surmounted to something like a power surge – and I am about to be burnt out. Like a fuse.
Oh, but let me remind you what the function of a fuse is. It serves the role of protection: a fuse is placed in a circuit to protect in the case of a power surge. To prevent the light bulbs from breaking or other such damage, the fuse sacrifices its own frail filament by heating up until it breaks, cutting off the current flow.
In a sense, a teacher is like a fuse. Except that unlike a fuse, a teacher is not replaceable.
It was that last thought that saved me; just as I was thinking “How much longer must I keep this up… I’m gonna burn out, like a fuse” – that it occurred to me I am so much more than that. I couldn’t be replaced, which meant I didn’t have the option to go out.
Which meant submitting to the idea that every teacher must eventually “burn out” is only true as long as one believes and, indeed, expects it.
Pressures likened to high voltages in the form of papers, deadlines, and even human beings – is that what it takes to burn me out? (Really, me?) If I am considering these as power surges, then that is only because I have my DC-current source all wrong.
Who better to keep you going,
keep you working,
keep you glowing brighter without dimming the circuit components around you,
except the All-Mighty?
This may appear to be a huge random leap in thinking, but this really happened. There I was thinking that a teacher is like a fuse, who burns herself out for the ‘protection’ of a younger generation – than God does not hesitate to make me laugh at myself.
All it takes is for I to take a step outside in the sunny humid weather outside, and become enthralled at the few sprinkles of cool water droplets falling from the sky… as though I am being told, “Chillax, kiddo. You’re no fuse on fire. If you were, this rain would’ve immediately put you out.”
And yet I still had that spark glowing brighter than ever in me, and all that the rain did was fill me with an indescribable sense of grateful joy.
Nope; God knew that I knew what I was getting myself into. And if He led me to it, He’ll lead me through it.
If I am to be compared to a protective device in a circuit, I would prefer being a breaker. At least those are reusable, resilient, as many times as it wills to be.
“I’ll take a dandelion any day over a rose. Now that’s a flower. It’s humble, hearty, keeps coming back no matter what you do to it. And it always blooms a brilliant yellow smile.” (Mornings in Jenin, p.209)
That’s the kind of teacher I want to be: humble, hearty, and keeps coming back.
I am like a dandelion. Not like a fuse.
And Allah knows Best.