Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Tender Mercy

 As I've discussed way too many times.... Teaching is a job of little fame. It was actually really hilarious. The other day I was in a friend's math classroom when an old student from like 10 years ago came back to visit her. I never had this student but I couldn't help but laugh at the conversation. She said,"Before my mission I was planning on being an engineer. Everyone was so encouraging and positive about my chosen path. Then I was on a mission and realize how much joy comes from teaching. So I am changing my major to math education. I'm loving it except maybe I'm prideful but I hate the reactions people give when I tell them I'm going to be a teacher.  They say things like, 'Oh don't just be a teacher.' or 'you must be crazy.' When did you get over the negative comments people make degrading teaching?"

Now I feel like if there's a profession that constantly has to defend its value to society maybe it really isn't that valuable... So maybe teaching isn't that hard. Maybe it isn't that important... 

But really the problem is. No one ever really sees it. Now I'm not talking about hours of grading papers or prepping for lessons.  Sure there is that too. But I'm talking about the straight up, down and dirty trenches of the classroom.   I probably shouldn't admit this, but I bet of the 58,275 hours I have spent in a classroom teaching kids... Maybe 5 hours total has an administrator or another teacher watched. 

It's probably one of the most difficult parts of being in the trenches. You are all alone. You have no idea how your classroom compares to another classroom you have no idea if you are as successful as you should be. You are totally clueless with your nose stuck to the grind stone. 

Until my tender mercy walked through my door. You see sometimes we have aides that come into our classes to help particular students with disabilities. But typically these aides aren't in the field of education. They are just passing time until they can find another job. That was until Brittney. I'll never forget when she first came into my room. Straight off her Argentinian mission, she was bright eyed and ready to help kids. When I asked her what her plans were she said,"I don't know. Probably education?"  I (in a bad day of the trenches) threw out a cynical laugh and said, "Not if I can talk you out of it first."  

For the next 6 months Brittney came into my class every day so eager to help kids and learn. It was quite intimidating at first to have another grown adult watching my every move. Remember, I'd gone 8.5 years of battling the trenches alone. To all of the sudden have someone else there was nerve wracking.  Afraid she was judging my every move, silently critiquing my approach in the trenches. But quickly I realized that Brittney and I were on the same team and fighting the same battle. And man alive, we rocked it. We got kids to learn and grow in ways they never had in their 9 previous years of education. 

But I'm getting side tracked. Brittney was a blessing to my classroom because she is a rock star at her job and we made great team. But that isn't why she was a tender mercy. She was/is so precious to me because for the first time ever.  10 years we are talking about here people.  For the first time someone truly understood what I am doing in my classroom.  Sure students know.  Sure they try and explain what happens in my class to others.... but it's not the same.  Their perspective is so limited.... (they are still in the stage of life where they are shocked to hear that a teacher has a life outside school...)  But for the first time I have a grown adult that truly understand.  Someone who sees my battles, sees how hard I fight to win each one, and the best part.... gives me a pat on the back every once awhile when I need it.  When she compliments me it's not shallow, it's not based off hear say.  It's based off her own experience watching me in the trenches that are all too often so lonely.

Words cannot express how grateful I am for this little HUGE tender mercy in my life.


P.S.  yes, my hair is almost ALWAYS in some type of pony/bun at school.  I workout every morning.  I don't have the time or patience to do my hair.    A student said to me yesterday, "Mrs. B, maybe you should wear your hair down more.  You would be so pretty!"..... kids say the darnedest things. :)

1 comment:

Camile said...

I wish I could sit in on one of your classes! I'm sure you're an epic teacher. You are obviously passionate about what you do and truly care about the students.