Yesterday was a terrible day. I know you don’t hear that from me very often, but it happens to the most positive and optimistic of us. I was frustrated beyond endurance. I lost my patience. I was angry. I was discouraged. I had a headache all afternoon. The only cure was a walk in my garden.
As I walked it occurred to me that even on the worst of days I never think of quitting my job and looking for another one. I never regret becoming a teacher. I didn’t even think about staying home today and pretending to be sick! LOL I suppose that is a sign that I’m either in the right job or I’m crazy.
What I thought about as I relaxed in the garden was how to make things better today. While most of my frustration yesterday was due to the behavior of my students, it was my own behavior that allowed the situation to get out of control. I care too much sometimes. I want so desperately to change the lives of these children. I want them to behave and listen and learn and be successful as they continue on their educational journey. But in April…when I see some of them behaving just badly as they did in August, when I see them doing half the work of their classmates, when I listen to them making excuses or telling actual lies, when I watch them disrupt the learning of children who are trying so hard to do their best….it makes me feel like a failure. What did I miss? What did I neglect to try? What could I have done to turn this child around?
Of course in most instances the answer is “nothing”. I know that. I’ve been around long enough to watch many of my former student grow to adulthood and despite the influence of many, many teachers they are still “misbehaving”. A few years ago I encountered a former student while shopping at Walmart. He was in the third grade at the time, and obviously in a bad mood. I said “hi” and asked him what was wrong, thinking that perhaps his mom had refused to buy him something. He looked directly at me and said he had gotten paddled at school. “And why did that happen?” I asked. “Because my teacher is stupid!" was his response. His mother reprimanded him, but I knew from experience that her words fell on ears that had long ago tuned out both of us.
There has been a lot of discussion in the news lately about mental illness and our failure to recognize the signs of abnormal behavior at an early age. I don’t think we fail to recognize it; I think we all want to deny that it exists in young children. We hope to control and change them. We hope to be the person in their life who “makes a difference”. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t. I have been following the lives of several of my former students and unfortunately many of the ones that I feared would have lifelong problems have done so. I still remember how sad I felt the first time I learned a former student had been sent to jail. But what was worse was that I was NOT surprised. Children grow up to be adults and we have to give serious consideration to what kind of adults they will become, because I promise you that their behavior as a six-year-old is a good indication.
So…I have walked in the garden. I have slept. I am refreshed and restored and ready to try again.
I plan to have a Wonderful Wednesday! Hope you do too.