easier is happening one baby step at a time

First day back at work.  To make it all clear, I’ve been teaching middle and high school English (aka Language Arts) for nearly twenty years in the same district.  About ten or twelve years ago, I had a student freak out and basically attack me (long story, much shortened here).  There were two big hearings because his family hired lawyers to protect him from being expelled.  It was grueling and humiliating to have my teaching questioned and even condemned publicly.  Especially since I had done nothing wrong.  After that I had a hard time getting my footing again.  I transferred to a new school.  I took a leave and tried something else.  Went back to teaching.  Took another leave, and went back again.  At this point I feel very disillusioned with teaching, yet I fear change and fear the unknown. Plus, I had gotten very sad for different reasons during those two leaves, so I can’t conclude that it’s only the toxic environment of schools that makes me sad.  It’s something deep within me.  None of this sounds EASY, does it?

So after my first day back after Spring Break, I feel exhausted.  My legs ached today.  My floor was littered with crap at the end of the day, which makes me sad (and yet I know its me who should have trained the kids better, which makes me sad too).  After school two girls were working on their grades. Loud girls.  We were kidding around.  I stood my ground though they begged for free points.  When they left, another student who was working on his grades said, “they just bested you in your own classroom.”  That’s not exactly what he said, but something like that. I said, “No, I won.  They wanted to get free points and I didn’t let them.”  He thought I had fought with them. It was weird because he basically thought they were awful (which they sort of are, but I cajole them).  Anyway, I was left thinking, did they best me?  Did they disrespect me?  I didn’t think so.  He did.  I don’t know how I came to be talking to him about this.  I just stopped talking.  And I didn’t feel disrespected.  Except a little by him, but he’s the kind of kid who is probably sensing the pain and frustration that I’m swallowing.  Anyway, it’s all of this kind of stuff that drives me crazy.  The negotiating.  The cultural difficulties that no one can really talk about for fear of being labelled a racist.

When I was a kid we didn’t negotiate with grown ups.  But then back in those days, kids were molested and nobody knew what to do about it so most of us didn’t talk about it or get help.  So kids’ rights are good. But kids’ rights are also annoying.  I mean, for a teacher who tries to make sure kids are seen and treated fairly.  It’s not EASY.

So today I’m going to trust that I am not going to be teaching for much longer, and although I don’t know what is coming next, I’m working on it–I’m figuring out my next move.  I don’t need to panic. I don’t need to overthink my day.  I just need to do nice things for myself, remember I’m on project easier, and let go. Easier is happening one baby step at a time.

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