Wow– its October. It amazes me how quickly time moves. Life is back to its normal chaos with the school year well underway. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful group of kids this year that I am really enjoying (even if there are some days it feels like I’m dragging them kicking and screaming through the ninth grade). We’ve already had some funny and thought-provoking conversations and have made some memories that will hopefully stick with them the way I know they will stick with me.
The perspective of teenagers is always interesting to me. They are at such an odd place developmentally. Physically, they are growing and changing while mentally they are in limbo between childhood and adulthood, the proportions of which they portray differ with each situation they land themselves in. I have found that with the group I have this year, it is very difficult to get mad at them. They are masters at being incredibly frustrating, but they make you laugh at the same time.
I have one class that is particularly– unproductive. Its right after lunch (fellow teachers will know what this means) and they are balls of energy. Settling them down is a challenge and they are an interesting mesh of personalities. Even with the struggle, I enjoy them. We may not get through materials as quickly as I would like, but we have built great relationships and they are a bright spot in my day. One day, one of the particularly rowdy boys asked me, “Miss, you hate us don’t you?”. I explained to him, that as a teacher I often view my students as I would my own child. Even at the most frustrating of times, and even when I’m hard on them everything I do comes from a place of love. I told him, “If I hated you, I would leave you to your own devices and not do anything to steer you in the right direction”. This school year, with this group of kids, has really been a reminder of why I chose the profession in the first place. I love making a difference in their lives and I hope that I can help them see their potential and rise to it. They also inspire me to be the best version of myself that I can be.
There are so many times when I am reminded to practice what I preach. Every once in a while, I’ll have a student that sees me as a safe place to land and they will come to me just because they’re having a bad day. They are still learning to manage their stress and emotions and often feel that their world is ending. Sadly, for some their world really is crumbling and school is the only place they are at peace. There’s a student that comes to mind that I had my first year teaching. She was a challenge to say the least. Every day was a battle and she would often lash out at the smallest redirection. We did not get along in the slightest. At the end of that year, I had my students write me goodbye letters. Hers was the most shocking. She told me that she was extremely sorry and ashamed for how she had acted. That she knew that all of the times that we ended up crossways, that I was just trying to help her and that she could tell that I cared.
The next school year, I did not have her in class but she was still a regular fixture in my classroom. She was not getting along with her mom at the time so home was stressful for her. She would come and rant about her mom not understanding her, the issues she was having with other girls at school, and how frustrated she was with school. I would give her the usual teacher speak and tell her that these issues were only temporary and that one day she would see how small they really were. The one major piece of advice that I gave her was to find three things every day that made her happy and whenever she was ready to blow a gasket, to focus on those three things. They could be anything from getting an A on a test to eating her favorite food for lunch, but find three good things that happened every day.
Then one day, she came in and I was having an awful day. Anything and everything that could go wrong did, and I was obviously flustered. She looked me dead in they eye and said, “What are your three good things today?”. Needless to say, it stopped me in my tracks. I thought about it, and I came up with my three good things and I focused on them for the rest of the day.
I still give this same piece of advice to students when they are up in arms about their grades or they’re fighting with their friends or they don’t make the team. I still tell myself this when I’m ready to explode over the latest setback. I say all of this to challenge you- what are three good things that happened to you today?