Hi, and welcome to Burned-In Teacher! My name is Amber Harper and I am the creator of BiT. My whole life I have been a big fan of the underdog. I especially became a fan of the underdog when I became one myself. Teaching is a profession filled with overworked, under appreciated, and unhappy people. My story is much like many others'.
My first year as a teacher was filled with tears and turmoil, yet I feel (in comparison to other first-year teachers) that my story was a dream. My teaching team was unkind and unforgiving. I tried to share ideas and was continually told to sit and listen. I tried to communicate, but was constantly misunderstood. I was isolated. I was completely left to feel that I wasn't good enough. When told that I had one more year to 'try this', I felt that I was already walking the plank into a sea of failure.
My second through eighth years had many highs and lows, finally ending in the middle of the school year when I felt that there was no other choice for me but to put up a white flag and leave my teaching career. I left my good friends and a very comfortable teaching position behind. I had no intention of working in education again. EVER.
However, fate ran its course and there I was, six months later, standing in front of little faces. These beautiful children were sitting in front of me, wide-eyed, eager to let me teach them. I, on the other hand, cried most every day on my way to work before stepping in front of them. I felt defeated, like a complete failure, like I had no purpose and all the while teaching in a new district with no friends. I was miserable and so depressed. The saddest part? Even before leaving my previous position I was miserable and depressed. There was clearly something wrong with me. How could I possibly love and hate my career so much at the exact same time?
Then, I had a thought. Am I really alone? I know that people complain all the time, but is that really the norm? Are there other people who want to solve this problem? Clearly, I was burned-out, but was there a cure for it? After searching online, I found countless articles and YouTube videos, but all were detached from one another and none of them offered a long-term solution. Thus, Burned-In Teacher was born.
It wasn't until April 2016 that I had an epiphany. Something lit a fire in me and I started to understand what was missing. My hero. All those years of being sad and unfulfilled was for a reason. I was meant to reach out to others and help them to go from burned-out to burned-IN.
All of those years, I waited for someone to save me. I was waiting for a change in our country's state of education, a change in administrators, ANY change. And, all those years, the only thing that needed to change was me. I was on a constant roller coaster of highs and lows that I blamed others for. It turns out, I planned, designed, and built that roller coaster. I planned out my misery, laid the track, and rode it like I owned it. For nine years.
It took me way too long to realize that I was in control of my happiness at work. I had to tear down that rollercoaster and build a steady bridge. That bridge brought me to Burned-In Teacher. I have taken many steps to become the teacher that I am today, and I'm not perfect. Sometimes, I still try to jump back onto that rollercoaster. It took me three years to tear down what I had built. Yes, there are some tough days. I'm not immune to frustration and doubt. However, knowing that I am the designer of my bridge and that I can choose to keep building, makes me my own hero.
Through reading, watching, studying others, and reflecting, I have become so unbelievably happy and fulfilled in my career (most days), that I can't believe that I lived so many years in the burn-out zone. I can only hope that, through this community support, you can look back and wonder the same thing.