Friday, September 7, 2012

Year 3: Week 1 – Facing The Inevitable

One of my students will cry. A piece of technology will stop working at a critical time in a lesson. A situation with a parent will cause extra work and stress. And my life outside of school will impact my work life as it did last this week when my grandmother passed away.

There are things that we can count on in the course of a school year and in the community of a school. When we think about inevitability, the negative connotation of the word often overshadows the great things that will happen in the year as well.

Maybe we think of the bad things that happen to us with a negative feeling of inevitability because we don’t feel like we can do anything about them. Over the weeks of summer, sometimes the negative, the moments of stress override our sense of hope and optimism when our concerns about starting a new school year arise.

More than anything, I entered this first week with a sense that all of these things good and bad would happen this year. I mean this is the third year I’m at this school. There certain things that are “normal” at this school that will happen. Right? Well, maybe not.

My feeling of inevitability has been in conflict with the fact that in general, I don’t like to believe that there is anything in life that is in fact inevitable and the things that are, like death, aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

If we allow ourselves to believe that negative things in a school are simply bound to happen then we rob ourselves of the opportunity to be creative and make something better. You have to choose your battles and you can’t fix everything at a school, but you should never stop fighting for your kids just because something has always happened a certain way.

So how about the things we can’t control? A student crying is difficult but it’s a natural response, which helps students grow and adults to better understand children. Technology breaking down, forces us to respond quickly to the students and rethink what we are doing which can lead to innovative and creative teaching. Difficult parent conversations are some of the most important parts of a teacher’s job, which provide a critical and often enlightening perspective.

So what positive effect does my grandmother passing away have on me as a teacher?

I don’t know, only time will tell.  

I had a fantastic first week of teaching, but right now, my enthusiasm is overshadowed by feelings of loss and grief.  Yes, I am a teacher, and even though now I no longer have any grandparents who are alive, I will always be a grandson.
Teaching has made me a better person and that my life has made me a better teacher.  As I face a loss that is out of my control in my personal life, I find strength knowing that teaching has taught me that in the inevitable there is always hope.      

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