Saturday, May 24, 2008

Valuable Lessons from Teaching, pt. I

There remains only one week of school left in my career as a teacher.

I mean, who's to say I won't ever go back to teaching? There were so many students I just fell head-over-heels for. So many lessons I loved teaching. So many books I loved submerging into with my students.

But, you know what gets me -- what really sucked my enthusiasm? Feeling like a failure after the endless hours of hard work. I've had countless cathartic conversations with Jen F. about this. (Oooh, note my beautiful alliteration.)

Some people are total cowards. My principal happens to be one of them. Especially when it comes to sticking up for his teachers. So, when some not-so-bright parent comes in to totally thrash on the teacher, he always sides with the parents.

Now, I know I sound harsh here, but you have to understand something about me: I really, really, really want to get to the truth of the truth of the truth. I want to figure out where I've fallen short, and I always try to fix it and do better. I don't want to be one of those people with glaring flaws everyone but me can see.

However, I have come to the understanding that sometimes -- sometimes -- I am blameless or nearly blameless. And I've only come to that conclusion after weeks/months of sincere pondering.

But Mr. Principal always -- mm-hmm, always -- sides with the parents. Even when the parent is a total nit-wit. And there really are nit-wits out there. (Yes, it's taken me hours of pondering to come to this grand conclusion as well.) For instance, I've come across parents who tell the teacher to spray their child with a water bottle when he misbehaves. Or parents who defend a child who has cheated. Or who wants the child to make up all their missing work from several months ago in the previous term and receive full credit for it. Yes, all these people are right. And I am always wrong.

After putting in countless hours of hard work -- and more importantly, giving the best my heart has to offer -- I am wrong, and Mr. Principal admonishes me to learn a valuable lesson from my failure.

Teaching has taught me endless lessons. But, unfortunately, the two lessons standing out at the end of this year are that (1) some people are cowards, and (2) sometimes, I am right.


George and Jill said...

Good for you! I am bringing a spray bottle full of water with me next week when I sub! That cracks me up :)

Ashley said...

I totally know what you're talking about. That's how my faculty was last year (including someone I carpooled with!) it makes it a very draining year. And a twinge of sourness to that nearly perfect year. If I learned anything is what kind of parent I do NOT want to be!

Bethany said...

It seems that parents these days want to hand the world to their children on a platinum platter and not have them work for one little bit of it. Kids aren't learning respect or responsibility. And everyone wonders why everything is going off a cliff. I'm sorry you have to deal with such stupid parents.

Ashley said...

Yay! You're done! Hopefully your principal wasn't as retarded as mine was and you have a while to pack up.

Annie and Berkeley said...

Mikelle, you are not helping me out here with my whole choice of major situation...

Shelly Beth said...

I am so sorry you had such a rotten experience. I keep telling Drew that since I had such a great first year (school, faculty, staff, principal, students, parents), I am sure I have my work cut out for me in some other classroom down the road once I get to teach again. But kind of like motherhood (like in your post below), there are those joyous moments in teaching that make it all worth it, ya know? Anyways, hope you are already having an awesome summer!


From one who was fired on false pretenses by her principal and then rehired by the same principal all in one day, I empathize with you! There really are some nutty administrators out there. Or maybe they just all happen to be in the PSD? haha. But to be honest, I think I win for having the worst principal.

The fact that I had the parents supporting me against the principal, which is a little twist to your story, proves it. Luckily, I never had any problems with the parents. Rather, it was the faculty that seemed to be over sensitive. I look forward to finding out what it's like outside of Utah. (I pray there will be a difference!)

As for the let down with the end of the year, I also can empathize. I don't know when I will ever teach again either, so I anticipated to end the year with a big horrah, feeling successful, gratified, etc! There were a lot children that brought me wonderful gifts and cards and hugs. But unfortunately, that was all clouded over by two extremely challenging management problems with two of my students that were never really resolved. And not to mention the guilt knowing all of the lessons I wanted to teach but never did!

Teachers get a very different experience at the end of the year than anyone else. While all the kids, parents and administrators run off cheering, we are left in our classrooms with hours of packing, packing all of the long-forgotten materials we were going to use in great lessons. Then there's that sweet little card in the back of your desk drawer from sweet Sara that you forgot about, and before you know it, you're a complete nut-case creating a lake of tears in the desk drawer.

I've concluded that the end of the year is worse than death. First, because you know when it's coming. This creates a huge amount of stress. There's so much you want them to accomplish and become before May 30 comes around. Second, instead of being dead without the students, you still have to live without them. At least when you're dead, you can pop into their lives in ghost form and see what they're up to. Third, you're not sealed to them, so who's to say you will EVER see them again? At least with your own kids you can still have an influence on them forever. Finally, when it's over, the students are glad it's over. When you die, everyone is mournful of the event.

Luckily, I found some comfort reading the New Testament these past few weeks. I realized that Christ has felt all of the same emotions we have felt while teaching and then having to leave his disciples, all with very limited time. He even expressed how he felt the pressure of time in Mark 9:19. Christ basically says, Oh my goodness! I have a long way to go with these people, and how long do I have? There isn't much time!
And I wonder how hard it was for him to leave his disciples and ascend into Heaven. It might have been worse for him because, unlike us wondering how our kids will do, He knew they would all be killed and the gospel would be lost.

So if Christ had those feelings and emotions, I suppose it is noble that we are having them to. That alone should let us know that we have done our part and it is pleasing in the sight of God!

I love you Mickelle.
love, SarahLynn

p.s. I have a blog now.