2

I’m positive I’m negative. 

So I’m not sure how this plays out in other career fields, but as a teacher I have noticed that there is a single unifying factor among all teachers. It isn’t love of students or passion for content… It’s trash talk.

Seriously. I have never met a teacher who didn’t have a lot to gripe about. And I guess I always knew this was true, but it’s become especially clear to me in recent weeks.

See I’m just coming out of a pretty nasty bout of post-partum positivity1depression (I’m working on a vlog about it) and I’m making a new concerted effort to be positive and optimistic. So far, it hasn’t actually been that hard. We have a new curriculum this year that I actually love, we got an awesome new tech panel to use in our classroom that is totally useful, I’m teaching a super exciting elective class, and I just have a whole new lease on life. I feel good about my job and my life in general.

I’m also being required to attend some extra training days this year regarding English language learners in the classroom. It stinks that I have to take days out of the classroom, but I am actually really enjoying the training. It’s interesting and really useful.

So I’m like, asking questions and actively participating in the training when I realize… Holy crap. I’m that girl. You know, the one who keeps us all late in class when nobody else cares… And I leave the training and am chit chatting with another person in the training and I start to say how I’m enjoying it… This other teacher looked at me funny and said the training was BS. A few expletives (from her) later and I say something to the effect that it’s a bummer to have to miss out on work for it and she begins to nod her head and rip into how terrible it is to have a sub.

Apparently I was not supposed to be positive. You know the phrase “misery loves company”? I think that person was probably a teacher. Since I’ve been paying attention, I’ve noticed that teachers  love to complain about everything from principals to pencils. Interruptions to IEPs. Trainings to technology. Parents to placement testing. (Alliteration!)

66632004Now. Teachers have to put up with a ton of garbage just to do their job. In fact, at this very moment I can think of about twenty things that are hindering me from actually doing me job well. There’s so much policy, bureaucracy, and legislation that I can even send a kid to the office without being afraid of a lawsuit. And the moment I learn a new grade book system or technological device it seems like I have to learn something else. Oh and by the way, the first thing never did work right and I still don’t have a working teacher computer.

Even with that though, I still love me job. I love my students. And you know what? All of the new stuff we have to use just means we’re at least trying to keep up with the changing times.

I say all that to say this: I am not a positive person. My personality tends very easily toward cynicism. So when I’m the most optimistic person in a group… It’s a problem. We as Americans, as teachers, as humans in general, are so lucky. We are so incredibly blessed. We live in an incredible time and place  in history.

Teacher especially – it is our duty to influence our students for good. If we hate everything, what are they supposed to do? I want my imagesstudents and their parents to be proud of the school they attend. I want to be a bright spot in dark times.

 

I admonish us all, but specifically educators, to work hard at being positive. Even when everything sucks, which it often does, complaining doesn’t help. I’ve learned that first hand. Last year was a super easy year for me as far as workload, but I complained about a lot. This year is insane and crazy and difficult and busy… But I’m loving it. And the biggest change is my attitude.

Take it from a generally negative person… Negativity sucks. Choose to be excited and your circumstances will become exciting. Like my dad always says – right actions follow right emotions.

That is all.

🙂

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3

Not knowing what’s right.

I have a student in one of my classes that transferred from a remedial class. I’ll call him Jacob. Jacob is a very sweet kid and I’m glad to have him, though he can be a bit of a distraction. He loves making others laugh and is generally a delight to have. We have a pretty good working relationship. Unfortunately today I’m pretty sure I severed that relationship.

Jacob brought a speaker to school – one of those bluetooth things. It started playing music during class. Now I’m pretty chill about things like that. I don’t take a phone away if it rings as long as it’s the first time and the student puts it away. So we laughed together and I told him to put it away. Then it happened again. So I told him, obstinatea bit more sternly, to make sure I didn’t see or hear it again. Guess what? I did. So on the third time, I told him that if it happened again I would take it. Lo and behold, the speaker announced itself once more. It was five minutes until the bell rang, but I had laid out a consequence. So I told him to bring it to me. My plan was to return the speaker when the bell rang, a whole five minutes later. Problem is, Jacob didn’t give me the speaker.

Jacob started explaining to me that it was an accident and the speaker didn’t even belong to him. Why should he have to give it to me if it was an accident? The conversation became more and more serious until I finally told him – If he didn’t give me the speaker, I would have to send him to the office for defiance. right thingHe continued to try to explain himself and I could see that he was fighting back tears. In one last attempt for peace making, I told him he could hand over the speaker and I would give it back at the end of the day. He still tried to convince me I was wrong, so I wrote him up and sent him to the office.

After he left, I cried. Did I make the right decision? How could I know? I value the relationships I have with each of my students. I especially value the relationships I have with struggling students, but what could I do? If I didn’t follow through, I would be inconsistent at best and a liar at worst. Now that I have though, I’m afraid I’ve ruined our relationship. Any sort of respect he had for me is probably gone.

I have always adhered to the biblical philosophy of letting your “yes be yes and your no be no” (Matthew 5:37). The problem is that it’s easier to passively change your mind. I do it every day (think “my diet starts tomorrow”). I suppose it’s good practice for when my son one day grows to adolescence. But I hate it. I want to make my kids like me so that we can work together peacefully. Teaching is Hard

Remember when we were kids and everybody told us that the right decision is often the hard decision? It never stops being true. And it never gets easier. Pray for me, y’all. I want to always do the right thing.

That is all.

0

Been gone so long.

Here I am… I have not died. One the contrary, I have started my life for realzies. Since my last post, I have graduated from college and gotten a (semi permanent) teaching job here in Texas. I am loving my life right now.

I would have to say that what is guiding me these days has been this simple verse: images

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for we know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.   James 3:1

Now I know, “ooh look at me I’m a real teacher now and I think what I do is the most important thing in the universe”  But really. God is challenging me on the subject of seriousness. I believe that when I started this college thing I had a pretty good grip on the importance of education, but over my studies I have become distracted by the easiness of mechanics and practicalities. It’s much simpler to create lesson plans and integrate grammar instruction into literary analysis. And, necessary though it is, that is not why I teach.

To-the-future

I teach because I must share. I must share my passion, I must share my knowledge, I must share my insight… I must share my love. I love my content area, and I love teaching, and that’s good. God gave me that as a tool. But my real purpose is to love my students. I love the relationships I have built and I love that I can speak into their lives.

And given the recent seriousness of school security issues, it is imperative that I waste not one moment pouring into my students. Every day becomes a new wake up call for me. If my students don’t knowhow to discern a literary motif, I will be sad, and I will try harder. But if my students don’t know that I love them, and that God loves them more, I will be heartbroken, and I will weep for the missed opportunity.

When I graduated, I wrote a letter to my old English teacher thanking him students633for the impact he had on my life. And his response? He was humbled that God used him to change the course of my life. It reminded me that there is a much bigger thing going on than reading the Red Badge of Courage.

I pray that as I learn and grow in my new career that I will always remember the significance of the charge placed on my life. And I pray that as you read this, you will pray with me to change the course of at least a few students’ lives. I love you dearly, friends.

That is all.