Saturday, October 8, 2011

The F and the W

From the first day of class, I recognized F as a student who is different. And difficult.

F is intelligent. She knows our conversations. She has read and learned about these topics long before most of the students have. I think it's safe to assume that her parents probably lean liberal. She dresses her own part. She doesn't seem interested in blending into the student culture of materialism and shallow relationships.

On the flip side, F is regularly resisting homework, rolling her eyes in class, and all-around making me feel like a pretty horrible teacher.

On Thursday before class, F asked me, as several students have, "What is that 'W' you have drawn on your hand most days?"

I told her: "I'm probably crazy, but I have this problem where sometimes I think I am the scum of the earth. I imagine that there couldn't be a worse person on planet earth but me. 'W' stands for 'worthy.' I write it there to remind myself."

"Hmm," she said.

After class, she popped her head back into the classroom after all the other students had left and said, "Ms. Bo, I think you're awesome. From the first day of class, I just knew there was something special about you. I just wanted you to know that."

I nearly gasped. I was pretty sure she despised me and disliked the class. This encouraged me.

I told Ken about this and he surprised me yet again by saying, "Ms. B, what is this self-confidence 'thing' you struggle with? Why do you think you struggle to see yourself as valuable?"

Huh?

"Umm...I don't know," I said somewhat defensively. "I've not had many conversations with people who don't struggle to see themselves as valuable. What's your deal? Why don't you struggle with this?"

Parenting? Bullying? Education? Religion? Nurture? Nature? Neither of us could come up with good reasons as to why we did or did not have great self-confidence. Frankly, I just think he's the strange anomaly. Because, I'm so normal.

Watching F in and out of class, I've realized the reason I am both intrigued and perplexed by her is because she reminds me a bit of myself in high school: kinda sassy, smart, asking bigger questions. This is good. Yet, I was much more of a conformist than her in high school and that's probably why she tests me. Which is also good.

I wrote down her words and put them in my plan book to regularly remind me that even the students who seem so distant and so disinterested, may just like me. They may not hate me like I imagine they do. Just maybe.

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