It’s been the longest day. So long that by the time you get home you can’t quite remember what mood you left the house with in the morning, what you had for lunch, or how the first lesson of the day went. No detail, no fine lines, just one big smear of the day. The smear caused by something that happened in class that looms dark and large. By the time I reached my front door tonight, I had complained, got frustrated, felt disrespected, poured my heart out, tweeted for help, got comforted, made action plans, blamed myself, found fault with students, realized where I’d done wrong, sulked, felt ashamed and sorry, chastised myself, and finally cried.
I am spent. It’s tough, but I know I need to write about this whirlwind here.
I’ll go backwards and start from the end. As I walked home and replayed the class in my mind over and over again, it hit me that I’d cooked my own bacon right there.
When students were chatting off-topic in class, I took it to mean they were not focused – but were they challenged enough to keep their focus on task? Did the task mean much to them? Did I myself believe in the task I was offering?
When students’ poses during group discussion time looked “too relaxed” to me and suggested indifference – did I consider that’s how those students are, in general, as people? Relaxed.
When their answers to my question “How was your discussion?” didn’t match my expectations, did I acknowledge their responses as viable at all? Did I give them a chance to be heard? Was I ready to hear them, whatever it was they had to say?
Was my view of a good discussion different from theirs, but I stubbornly insisted on mine?
Was I mean to them at any point? Was I patronizing?
Did I praise them at all in this class? Both those who seemed to care and worked hard, and those who didn’t *seem so*?
Could I possibly have imagined some of the attitude? Didn’t I succumb to the negative I saw/imagined, let it control me, and spend the rest of the
lesson day with my vision blurred and judgement clouded?
The realization that hurt me the most was that I’d acted against my own beliefs (does that mean they are fake?…). Something I talk about with my colleagues a lot – that students are people first and foremost and people are different; that they made a choice to come to my class and that can be appreciated in itself; that they have a right to not enjoy this obligatory class; that we don’t know what’s happening in their lives outside of our class, which is exactly when their whole life is happening; that it’s me as a teacher – and hopefully a grown-up – who is in charge of making steps towards a positive environment.
I forgot to empathize. That’s what made me cry on my way home – and now as I’m typing this.
I know I can’t change my reactions, what’s done is done. Surely it was both of us, me and the students, but I know my ego blew it out of proportion. I got defensive, but I’m not sure what I was fighting for so fiercely mattered that much. In retrospect, I sincerely hope nobody other than me got hurt by the blow.
The response to my emotional message shared on Twitter and Facebook was overwhelming, both online and in real life. I’m thankful and amazed at how kind people are to me.
I will try to be that, too.
Thank you for reading.