“I Don’t Want To, but I Will”—Beating the Mid-Semester Blues

Mar 26, 2018 | Posted by Kristin Patterson


It was a classic mid-spring semester burnout. Cold and cloudy got me feeling uninspired and unprepared, to the point I found myself intently hoping that the roads would be icy enough to provide a reasonable excuse to cancel my mid-morning class. Alas, my prayers went unanswered, and the Oklahoma Department of Traffic showed green to my destination. The show must go on, so I pulled myself together and made the drive. Upon arrival, the building held the same tenebrous atmosphere, which didn’t help perk my enthusiasm for the class ahead.

This feeling that I couldn’t seem to shake haunted me as I recalled some of my favorite quotes from Andrew Pudewa’s talk, “However Imperfectly.” “Teaching is the overflow from the soul of the teacher to the soul of the student.” and “Teaching is all about love!” Such beautiful quotes that once filled me with inspiration now made me feel small and inadequate. What did I have to offer my students this morning? I had no fire, no desire. I was just there. This thought served to only depress me further and fixed my determination to just cancel class and send whoever showed to study hall for the period. Being a solid extrovert and verbal processor, I needed affirmation from someone to fix my decision, and I proceeded to peek my head into the current class to seek someone to consult. What met my eyes was the art class.

There were a handful of students at one table sitting directly across from their instructor, a burly man who is an expert artist with metal, stone, and wood. There he was with those few students, giving the lesson just as if there were a classroom full. Immediately I felt a slight shift in my perspective. Still, I approached and asked his opinion on possibly canceling my class. He saw my points and empathized with my sentiment of “just not feeling it today,” but at the end of the conversation he said, “You know what, Kristin, you’re here. Even if just a few students can make it today, it’s worth it.” I knew he was right, and it was just what I needed to hear. Alright, then. Class it is!

Eleven o’clock rolled around, and I was in the classroom with my own handful of students. After getting settled, I surveyed the students to select a class notetaker. I chose one of the students whom I know to be quiet and shy, yet very competent. When asked if she would be our notetaker, knowing this task entailed presenting the notes next week, a part she greatly disliked, she looked up and stated clearly, sweetly, and completely free of guile, “I don’t want to, but I will.” Her words struck me in a way I’m sure she didn’t think they would. I don’t want to, but I will. There it was. My lesson for the day.

In a moment the roles were reversed, and the love of the student overflowed to the soul of the teacher, bringing new understanding and insight. I don’t want to, but I will. Sometimes that’s what teaching with love looks like. It’s not always this bubbling feeling of joy to share wonderful things with your class (my usual state of mind!); sometimes it’s sheer willpower. And here’s the good news: That’s okay! It’s enough. It’s still love. Which means it’s still powerful and effective. Maybe mid-semester crisis is simply an opportunity for us to exercise a certain form of love for our students and the subjects we are commissioned to teach. In that light, maybe there are reasons it should be our favorite season! Yeah, I’m not there either, but I do take comfort in this newfound knowledge, unknowingly given to me by a student, and I hope in some small way it serves to encourage you as well.


Kristin Boutross grew up as part of a large homeschooling family in the rolling hills of Northeast Oklahoma. In addition to working in IEW's customer service department, she also assists the Director of Marketing. Teaching IEW classes for a local homeschool co-op, she has especially enjoyed being an assistant teacher to Andrew Pudewa. She enjoys snow, singing, teaching, traveling, being with family and friends, and working with and for IEW.


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