A Mosaic In Progress

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 26 2012

Being an Instrument

I don’t think I have ever appreciated school breaks more until now as I am currently on fall break. The last couple of weeks at school were quite rough. It’s pretty obvious that classroom management is not one of my strong traits. It’s not that I’m too nice bur rather that I’m too slow. Misbehaviors happen in front of me and I’m just caught off-guard by it no matter how severe it is. One student flicked another one off and I was more stunned that I saw it happened in front of me. Definitely need to be more prepared for next week!

That’s been the pattern over break. I remember specific episodes and I think about why I reacted the way I did and how I would change. I am glad that I am getting the chance to process these thoughts on my own but I was elated to get the opportunity to travel south to see some wonderful people I met throughout institute. It’s unusual for me to go on a trip to see friends and find every single person inspiring in his/her own way. There’s CM who loves to make definitive statements like “Oh, the students’ grade levels will improve by two levels by the end of the year.” JC who continues to pour hours, and even some on the weekends for tutoring, even though her kids have shown blatant disrespect. YC finds time to teach language classes on top of her schoolwork. JW continues to show the same positivity and joy when it’s tempting to only complain and vent. And on a run with JO, it was comforting to talk with a native Midwesterner who is excited about going home yet realizes the work there is to do in the Delta.

Needless to say, I was really sad to go back but I’m hoping to apply what themes I’ve learned into my classroom. The biggest of which is that I cannot grope about not receiving any respect. Instead, I must continue to display respect and hope in times when it’s hardest to do so. I was reminded of a prayer from St. Francis … 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy. 

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

I love all of my kids but there was one last week who drew my attention. I have a group of about twenty 7th graders who see me each day for an Advisory period. Among them is E, my student advisory board representative. She’s super involved in everything but she’s always calm and never complains. In fact, one of the boys in her group was holding the entire group back from getting a presentation done. E took it upon herself to say, “Why don’t you just listen to Mr. L and stop getting in trouble?!” The one moment that stuck with me was last Friday when we got the entire 7th grade class in the room. The three representatives were responsible for directing the group towards creating a class float for homecoming. As you can imagine when you’re in a room with 50+ 7th graders, it got rowdy and there was a lot of noise so that you couldn’t hear. And here was my 7th grader saying the words, “Y’all are not being very respectful when you’re talking while we’re talking.” The other 7th graders who were trying to control the group quickly became frustrated as they were screaming, “Shut up!” E was calm and composed. I figure if my kid can do that, I can do it too =).

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    Midwesterner being thankful for every written experience … even when it hurts =)

    Mississippi Delta
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