The struggle is part of the journey.

This year isn’t meant to be easy or to be a challenge; it’s meant to be real.

Over the past few days, I’ve experienced more firsts than I thought I would during this week of school. First lessons posted. First pull out behavior intervention. First fire drill. First PLC. First lock out. First struggle to grade, and first moment of feeling as though these kids are my kids. It’s been an interesting week to say the least, and it’s hard to pick one moment or a few moments to highlight as lessons learned.

Without question, one of these lessons came from my first 9/11 talk with my fourth period class. I wanted to coast through that day without bringing it up, knowing that a) my students would be learning about this in social studies, and watching the video for the first time, might I add; and b) as an adult and as a teacher, I hadn’t a damn clue about what to say. I made it through most of the day, and then fourth period happened.

Prior to this encounter, we had been talking about bullying in preparation for our first novel; therefore, it was widely known that real talk was indeed occurring in the sunshine room. When my darlings turned the corner from social studies, their faces were tattooed with sadness. My anxieties about talking about 9/11 dissipated as fast as they grew in the preceding days; my kids were broken, and I had to do something. We transitioned from the typical salutations to talking about what was bothering them, and there it was, the open door, the inevitable invitation to talk about the event that rocked my world years ago. I told my gems that I understand how they feel because 12 years ago, I was a sixth grader, like them, in a new school, as they are, without a care or a clue of the world. By associating me with someone who survived 9/11, someone who lived the day and can talk about it, we began to discuss what had happened and what we, the sunshine team in the reading room, can take away from seeing and learning about this day in history. Although I have an entire year ahead of me, I don’t think that I will connect with another group on as deep a level as I had with period four.

Since I was hired, the struggle to stay afloat has been unreal. I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but it hasn’t been the easiest road thus far. In saying such, moments with my kids make the politics and the snarky behavior, the mistakes and the frustration all worth while. That one student from period four who thanked me for my somewhat profound lesson on the effects of bullying made the stress of creating that lesson and the fear of it failing vanish. Days that result in period 1’s proclamation of “bullying is an unwanted piece of paper in the hallways of our school” are days to remember, and when period 3 ends with the entire class laughing at the lightbulb moment of “when you’re self absorbed, you’re a mean sponge,” you know that the sunshine beaming from them is as real as can be. Of course, I have my favorites, and I have my outliers that I honestly feel like beamed in from another planet, but they’re mine. I love them just for that.

– Ms. S.
aka Ms. Joy (thanks period 1)

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