Monday, May 18, 2009

Admittedly, Not a Good Day

I knew bad days would come with substitute teaching, but after so many good ones, I started to think that maybe I'd get by without any bad ones. Enter Monday.

All was set for the day to go well; the morning was warm and sunny, I was back at a familiar school, I was teaching a class and students I had taught before, and I reclaimed my lost Nalgene that very morning from the Elementary school next door. Life seemed pretty good.

It was a work day for the class, which I'm finding is what teachers assign 99.9% of the time when there's a sub. The class started out working - for the most part - which is great for this particular group. Well, halfway through the class a student decided they needed to see the counselor. After telling me what they were going to do (and not asking), they were gone. NOT OKAY! Then, another student asked to leave the room. After telling that student no, they left too! EVEN MORE NOT OKAY! I called the office and the Dean of Students tracked down my two missing sheep and had a nice talk with them. I was really appalled at their lack of respect. I mean, I know it's May, but really?!?

It poses the question for me, "When I'm a parent, how do I teach my children to respect authority?" And the funny thing is, I'm not even a mean authority figure! I've done my best to show students respect, and to show interest in the things they are doing in life. I've gone out of my way to talk with students, to help them, and to let them know that they are cared about. I felt hurt today that the respect I show the students was not reciprocated.

But I need to remember that they are just high schoolers. Life has a lot to teach them yet. They're learning, and for two of my students today was a life learning experience. I learned too.

I'm comforted by a quote I read on a teacher's desk last week from Emerson:
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
I also don't think it's a coincidence that an excerpt from "Messy Spirituality" that I read this morning before school started said this:
We don't grow by studying the definition of consistency; we grow when we try to be consistent in an inconsistent world. We can talk about love all we want, but loving those who are unlovely is how we learn about love. Jesus gave Peter some excellent teaching about betrayal and arrogance, but Peter didn't understand what Jesus was talking about until he actually betrayed Jesus. Peter's failure was the primary cause of his understanding and maturity.
So, I learned today. I learned about disrespect, which makes me appreciate respect. I learned that to care for students means you'll get hurt sometimes; that doesn't mean you shouldn't stop caring about them. I learned what is acceptable for me to tolerate and what is not. I learned how comforting it is to have an evening with your friends planned when you go through a hard day. :)

p.s. They're both suspended.

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