It seems that the weeks of emotional struggle are finally coming to a head. Perhaps in some strange way I was getting acclimated and building up strength, because this week was a doozy. I gave out A LOT of demerits (for those who don’t know they have a merit demerit system at the school in which good/exceptional behavior is rewarded with merits and poor behavior is discouraged by demerits, if they get a lot of merits they get prizes. A lot of demerits gets detentions and suspensions), I took away two phones and sent one student to the deans.
All things I had built up in my head at one point or another as something I couldn’t do. Or that would be really hard to do. And yeah, some of them are challenging especially when you get push back (this happens especially when you take phones away). And I hated sending my student to the deans. They are generally a really great student, but made a disappointing choice in the moment.
I was thinking though about my emotional state only 3 weeks ago. Then I would have taken it more personally. At that point honestly I might have flipped out on her a bit and expended some of my own frustration. As heavy as it was to spend essentially a whole weekend crying (yeah that happened), it was incredibly cathartic. Things are not perfect, my job still challenges me every single day–it’s not as overwhelming though. I’m getting better at rolling with the punches and venting and releasing. All the same I am seriously considering going to counseling I think it could be very beneficial and wise to have a professional to talk about the anxiety and challenges I’m dealing with daily.
I’m grateful that I’m only somewhat miserable, whereas three weeks ago I was mostly miserable. A few more months I might even get to mostly joyful, like I was over the summer. Okay that might be pushing it. Still to spend more of time in actual tutoring sessions enjoying myself than suffering through it would be amazing.
What I also realized is that setting clear boundaries and following through on boundaries is good for students and teachers. And it’s good to know that even if following through on a particular rule is challenging (like sending a student to the deans for “insubordination” (their words, not mine)), that my fellow colleagues have my back. Not only did I check in with my student after sending them to the deans, but their advisor (essentially like a homeroom teacher), had a follow up conversation with them. Through it all this student was able to process, be heard, and hopefully know that they were cared for. It’s one of many reasons I’m glad I’m at this school.
Even though this hands down is the most challenging job of my life so far. Yet despite all this discipline stuff, I’ve also gotten to a point where the good relationships are paying off. I’m really getting to know and care about these teens. I hear about their real lives. I’m finding out what they enjoy and what they hate (not much and most things respectively). They come to my tutorial sessions with good attitudes they confide in me about things that they need help with or just pure frustrate them.
I’m starting just a little bit to see the reward of investing in these teens. I don’t know how they’re all managing to worm into my heart, because of how I want to see every one of them succeed. My husband hears story after story about my students, the positive and the negative. I’m so proud of most of them, and some oh it saddens me to see them so discouraged. For some of my students they simply need to see that they are capable. They need to see that if they work hard it will show in their grades and accomplishments. They need to see that making mistakes isn’t the end of the world.
I can’t be there for all of them in the ways I would like to, I’m starting to be more grateful for this opportunity and I’m looking for ways I can really show that I care for these kids, because I really do. I try to show it in the simplest of ways, greeting them in the halls, asking how they are doing, letting them interrupt (briefly) to tell me or show me something that just CAN’T wait. By finding work I think they’ll really engage with, giving them opportunities to lead, encouraging them every single chance I get.
Everyday I strive to affirm the good in them, not only for their sakes, but also because it’s easy to clump them into teens with attitude. It’s easy to forget sure this one student can be sassy as all get out, but she also can be very kind and helpful when she chooses to be. And one student can spend forever avoiding work, but he can be so intelligent when he applies himself. My students are so unique and it’s easy to forget that when you’ve given yet another student yet another demerit for not following directions. I’m holding out that this is only the beginning of the good that’s to come. God has me here for some purpose, even if maybe it’s just to get out of my own head for a time. It could be for so many things, but I want to fully be present for it now that I’m beyond the ocean of emotion (that’s going to be the next great band, watch out for it). It’s been an exhausting, challenging, slightly miserable quarter. But there has also been good and I’m holding out that even more is coming now that I’m finally ready for it.