"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

14 February 2010

From my journal, 02/08/2010

I woke up this morning strongly tempted to turn my phone off so I wouldn't be called for subbing. I wonder what this is doing to my heart, this constant exposure to adolescents who do not know me, who will only see me a few times in their high school life, some of whom don't think twice about insulting my ethnicity. There are days I very much enjoy, especially with middle school students, but then there are days like last Friday where I come away feeling like I just can't do this another day, like I wasted a lot of money and time at NYU getting my master's, like it wasn't worth getting certified.

It's nice to return to classrooms I like, though, and it's nice to be requested by teachers who like the job I do in their classrooms. I'm praying desperately that today will be a good day...

As I told the teens on Friday night, I know all things occur purposefully, even bad things, hurtful things. It grieves my heart that some of these students (not our teens, the ones at schools) are so deeply ignorant and say such horrible things, but maybe exposure to the simple humanity of the other (me) is a smidgen of awareness for them. My heart goes out to Charlette (a teacher I subbed for last week), who deals with them every day, tolerating their anger, their bitterness at life, their feelings to entitlement to taking out their volatile emotions on whoever they want to. May she know that what she does matters to YOU, Abba, even if these kids don't care. I was hurt and a bit angry on Friday that I had prayed for that eighth period class only to have the few horrid ones be so awful that I cried afterward, but now, I am thankful I prayed. I think it allowed me forgiveness for them much sooner than I would have otherwise been able to muster. Funny how God allowed me that grace going into it. It was a lesson in humility as well. When Charlette warned me about that class, I had thought, "How bad could it be? Especially after my experience at S.H." I had thought it couldn't be too bad, but it was.

Nich was incredibly sweet to me that day. I had called him after school to tell him about what had happened, to cry and tell someone who knows me, who would understand the depth of hurt. He came home to me huddled on the couch in the office watching a movie ... and he had brought me a gorgeous bouquet of roses. What a gift Abba has given me in my husband. I am grateful for him every day, and I am so blessed to be loved by him.

I am at B.L. today. It's strange how certain methods of relating work for some and not for others. Middle school students, especially sixth and seventh graders are great. They're enthusiastic, fun to have in school, and they think you're hysterical when you make jokes. They're cute, they follow directions, they're not surly.

High schoolers are more volatile. Some classes are fine, the average mix of teenage personalities. On the whole, they are normal, nice kids who come to school every day and do their work. Once in a while though, there's one kid, or maybe few, who just carries a chip on their shoulder and as a sub, you're an easy target for their angst. If it's just one kid, no big deal. Ignoring their antics usually works, or I simply eliminate the problem and let the administration deal with it. It gets more difficult when there are more of them, because then they are able to influence the entire class with their negativity.

Today, the principal came in to let me know to send any troublemakers his way. He also informed me that electronics are against school rules and that I shouldn't tolerate their presence in class. I smiled and thanked him, but at the same time, in my head, I wondered, "Does he think I don't know that?" It's not just a matter of enforcing the rules, it's also about not coming across as that awful adult, the one who doesn't care about the kids, whose presence is solely to make sure the kids obey. Although I don't see them every day, I want the kids I see to know that for that short time, I do care, that I want good things for them.

I dread ninth period today, and the four kids who the massive attitudes, though. The two girls with the snotty, "I don't have time to listen to you, so I'm going to talk with my friends" demeanor. The boy who would rather waste forty minutes of his life trying to stare me down rather than read so he won't have homework. The two girls who decided to have conniptions that day, and that boy who sauntered into class late last time, throwing his pass onto the teacher's desk, talking loudly despite the quiet classroom and disrupting the fragile peace that had just been established moments before his dramatic entrance.

The good outweighs the bad ... overall. It makes me laugh when they're funny, because they genuinely ARE funny, teenagers. They have beautiful insights and profound thoughts ... when they want to think. They use the most unusual vocabulary, saying things like "epic fail" or "sick" that make me wonder who comes up with these terms. They grow and change quickly in the seven years of middle and high school, and I hope and pray that they grow into adulthood gracefully, having some foundational knowledge of the bigger world.

This is why I want to teach, why I am drawn to this age group. This is why, despite days like last Friday, I keep going back, why I believe - why I have to believe - that teaching is an honorable calling.

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