Ripping off the Band-Aid and Finding Thicker Skin

Before reading this post, please know that I am merely trying to explore a few emotions, that I am not complaining about my students and definitely NOT attacking them.  They are good people.  No qualifications.  No comma buts.

My students have a quote wall, a place where they write down funny things their teachers said.  I wasn’t supposed to find it.  But when I was checking out what they were doing using Hapara (a program that lets me see that they are on task during computer work completed in classtime), I found the quote wall.  And I tapped into it.

And I saw what they had “quoted me.”

With their side-bar comments.

And I was hurt.

They had mocked my attempts not to give them pounds and hours of work.  They had mocked my attempts to be understanding and compassionate.  They had mocked me.  The valiant teacher who championed students and their apathy and their exhaustion levels and their sleep deprivation.

ME!  Me in my shining armor and my noble steed and my shield of compassion and my banner of truth, justice, and the Gracelesscurran Way!!

By the way, please note that I am mocking myself….I have edited this post now three times and wanted to make sure that everyone knew that I am making fun of my over-emotional, over-dramatic response.  

So, yeah.  I was hurt.  And I prayed about it and thought about it and looked at my tender emotions and felt all sad and bad about it.

But I knew that, in the end, this was normal for students.  I know that I was frustrated with teachers, angry at times even with my favorites and most despised.  I recognized that they needed to vent, to blow off steam.

So I introduced this logic into my hurt feelings, and didn’t feel better.  The tea party of emotion and logic merely resulted in frustration because I couldn’t ignore the strength of the emotions nor could I reconcile the emotions.  I was just plain old fashioned hurt.

I didn’t talk about it with my husband.  He would scoff, likely say something that would sound sarcastic and just hurt my feelings even more.  I didn’t want to whine about it to my friends.  Definitely didn’t blog about it last night.  I needed to separate myself from the power of those emotions and just walk away.

But this morning, as I drove to work, I stewed.  I keep on seeing the sarcasm in italics and couldn’t speak.  Because I kept on nibbling at emotions which were there and were legitimate but also so petty that to give them voice would be to create unnecessary drama.

My son observed the silence in the car, made a joke about how quiet everyone was being.  After I dropped the Girl off at her school, I went back to the exit and, waiting to turn into the entrance was the woman we referred to as “The Lincoln-Lady.”  She was the topic of a blog written last fall, about a person who thought the rules didn’t apply to her, that entering through the exit was perfectly acceptable.

Change had happened.  Change can occur.

Twenty two years ago, when I was doing my practicum, students wrote something about me that wasn’t horrible, just a bit rude and mocking.  And I was so stupidly upset about it that I didn’t eat.  For a day.  I laid in bed and felt bad about it.

Now, twenty-two years later, I want to grab that over-emotional, over-dramatic baby and just shake her, scream at her, “Get over it!  It was a stupid comment a kid made about you making him move his seat!!!  It’s nothing.”

In the twenty-two years that I have been teaching, I have nearly been attacked, had a student try to cuss me out, had students write anonymous letters of complaint to me.

And I grew and learned from each event.  Each time, I had to let go of emotions and grow a thicker skin.

So, this morning, I ripped off the emotional Band-Aid and asked my son about the situation.  I told him about the quote wall.  I told him about the quotes and what was added.  And I asked him if I should say anything.

His response, “No.”

“Why?”

“Because it would just cause drama,” he responded.

I asked him to elaborate.  And as we went through the roundabout and drove up to the school and navigated our way into the parking lot and into a parking space, the Boy reminded me about the other side of my teaching life.

The number of people who greet me in the morning.

The students who populate my classroom during the study time.

The students who come back year after year.

The emails.

The notes.

The cards.

The goodness.

Students will be upset with me just like I will be upset with them.  But the Boy reminded me that this is nothing different than when a group of teachers sit in the lounge and briefly complain, briefly vent.  In the end, I will still love my students, no matter what.

As I shut off the car, popped the trunk, the axis re-aligned itself.  The debilitating exhaustion due to oral surgery and two nights of horrible sleep fell away like dead skin.  I pulled myself out of my car and looked at the brilliance of the dawning sky, at the sun rising over the treeline.

I pulled myself upright, felt my spine click into place.

A new day.  Another beginning.

I thanked my son.  Thanked him for hearing me out.  Thanked him for helping me see that no matter what I am doing, I won’t always make everyone happy. But I still work as hard as I can to do my best and to make my students’ lives easier.

My students have a right to feel frustrated.  Much as I did back in my good old days of high school.  And, at the same time, I have a right to feel frustration at antics and silliness.  But, in the end, I will not allow this moment to change how I feel or perceive my students.  I love them.  Because they are really good people with good hearts and good intentions.  I love my students because, well, they are just that, my students.  With emotions.  And exhaustion.  And frustrations that will, sometimes, include me.  And I need to let go of that stupid martyr phase and let the moment be the moment and walk forward.

I left the parking lot.  And went to my classroom where students were waiting for me.  And I went in and got to work and felt the hurt bury itself in the trashcan where it belonged.

I love my students.  And that will never end, no matter what happens.  And when I stop loving them, please let me know so I can send in my retirement papers and move forward.

 

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