Teaching--the good, bad & ugly

What gets me through my day--usually...
--keep your eye on your values

I was doing some reading recently for a research project that I am involved in and I came across this: 

"A teacher I know works enormous hours, with difficult students, huge classes, poor materials, and grouchy administrators. Yet, she still has huge amounts of energy. Why?
Well, she does tell people in passing part of her secret: "I love my classes." But people interpret "classes" as "subject," when what she actually means is, she's in love with her students.
This isn't romantic love. It's like the love of a mother for her baby, or Spielberg for ET--a marveling at the wonder of another life grappling with its world, whether as literature, math, or the ABCs. Such teachers have the ability to stand back in class and look at a troublemaker, or the dunce of the class, and fall in love because the student is making an effort, or perhaps rebelling. And when a teacher feels this awe, this respect, it can't help but be communicated. It comes out of a teacher's pores, it's in their energy. And students feel it. Feel that somebody knows they exist, that maybe the subject isn't the most important thing in the classroom--they are. And then they want to work. The energy multiplies.
I know it sounds kind of simple, but try it. Whadaya got to lose? You wanna love your classes? Fall in love with your students. Marvel with wonder, respect in awe."

I get it. I was madly in love with "my girls" at Doshisha Women's. Now that I am spending less time in the classroom I am feeling less connected with my students. It is rough, because my motivation for a nearly 6 hour daily commute was the high I got from our interaction. It was like magic. They had to do so much work, but they did it so willingly and so well. I got to watch them improve and grow. That was the thrill I got everyday. It felt like an investment. I wouldn't want the commute back--ever. But I can clearly feel the need to do more, to engage my students here, to make sure that they feel like they belong at our school and are getting their money's worth from me. Reading the article that I quoted from up there reminded me that I need to keep my eye on the prize: my students. And do all I can to help them realize their potential. I have been teaching for over 20 years and I am still learning--still have a long, long way to go.

Michelle Pfeiffer I am not, but...

I have a confession to make--I once threw a high school student against a wall. Yep, that's me: Mrs. Corporal Punishment. I will say in defense of myself that he was bigger than I am and he deserved it. He was rude to the 3rd power and my anger about his behavior hijacked my brain and I reacted badly. The funny thing is that before I man-handled him, he and I did not get along. After I roughed him up (and apologized and discussed what had happened with him) we got along fine. If I had acted the same way in the States, I would probably be out of a job. It helped that I didn't do it in front of his peers and it helped that I followed up by talking with him about why I got so angry. I did learn though, not to let my anger take over my higher thinking abilities. I do have to admit that it does not always work. Last fall I told a student  at our uni to "stop f***ing around!" Guess I still have a lot to learn...


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