Friday, November 18, 2011

Cotton Ball

Today was a good day. Fun class activities. Great feedback. Planning ahead.

Then, seventh period happened. Ken was gone. I was subbing. They knew it. And as the last student walked out the door, I put my head on my desk. And cried.

The plan was simple: group presentations. Then, I got overwhelmed with the questions, the eye-rolling, the leaning back, glaring at me, I-don't-care-about-what-you-have-to-say-and-you-can't-make-me attitude.

With five minutes left in class, I sat in my chair, leaned back, put my feet on the desk, crossed my arms, rolled my eyes, and added some necessary huffing and puffing. I asked them what non-verbal messages I was sending. They guessed: "Annoyed." "Frustrated." "Pissed off!"

Ding, ding, ding.

I reminded them that the best way to get what you want is to...ask for it.
Rolling your eyes doesn't qualify as "asking."

Recently I got this advice: "You're a duck. Let it roll right off your back." Well, what if I'm not a duck. What if I'm a giant cotton ball? I seem to absorb rather than repel.

I left feeling defeated. Small. Fraudulent. No one forced me to feel this way. But I did. And it sucked. How do I maintain a strong sense of self without letting those ornery students get to me?

Well, I've had a few ideas. Some better than others. One is to be on the defensive. To be ready for the difficulties and strengthen myself against them. To come armed and ready for the war.

Another, that came to me this week, was that the "me vs. them" analogy might actually be harming my experience because I'm constantly on the look out for the "enemy." So I regularly reminded myself: "This is not battle. You can relax."

Maybe I need a different strategy per class because the non-war analogy works great with some classes who don't come at me and horribly with 7th hour. It seems that I need all the resilience I can get with them. But I'm not a fan of "war" in general, so using that model feels counter intuitive.

After school, I walked to my car, sat inside, and breathed in the sweet silence. The present moment can be so elusive and difficult to identify and weed out amongst the past pains and future worries.

For my sanity these last 18 days of student-teaching, I'm desperately seeking that present moment to get me through. Looking past what I wished this experience had been and looking beyond the fears looming out-of-reach, and dwelling here, on the couch, with a blanket, and a mostly calm mind.

Dwell here.


Emily Star said...

Yes, that sounds like a good place to dwell and gather a calm. I want to hear an update sometime soon, I've been thinking about you--for now, I'm sending you a hug!

Anthony said...

You give them your hours of work and they look at you and say, "that's the best you've got?" Oh, the pain.