Friday, March 30, 2012

I Didn't Sign Up For This...

Those are the words that enter my head when I have a tough day at work...when I feel like a failure as a teacher because I just can't seem to get through to these kids.

I've been reminded over and over again by my mother, my husband, my colleagues, and even some of my precious students that I am not a bad teacher. And I know this. Because I've worked with "bad" teachers. But in my heart of hearts, or maybe my wildest dreams, I desire to reach every single student that enters my room (something I know is not possible). Even when the lead gang banger enters my room and daily makes me want to rip my hair out and I want to scream that I don't care anymore, it would be a lie. Because I do care. I can't help it.

There are days where I really wish I could just wash my hands of some of these kids and tell them that I am done trying. That would also be false...because the very next day I would find myself trying again. Trying to find words that might actually get to them. Trying to get them to open up and tell me why they act the way they do. Trying to get them to understand why an education is actually important. Trying to get them to see their own worth and potential. I try everyday. And nine times out of ten, I fail. Or in the words of Thomas Edison, maybe I just find ways that don't work.

And for some crazy reason unbeknownst to me, I keep trying. But I actually did utter the words to some of my students yesterday after a particularly frustrating class that had me slamming doors and quitting my lesson for the day that I did not spend 4 1/2 years in college and go $30,000 into debt from student loans just so I could take the disrespect and nasty attitudes that I do everyday. I deserve more than that. Don't I?

But didn't Jesus deal with the same and worse? He still deals with it. And He still loves and cares about those that curse His precious name. And I don't think that He would ever utter the words, "I didn't sign up for this." Because the fact of the matter is...He did. That's the very reason He died a cruel and awful death on the cross. That's the very reason He overcame that death 3 days later. That's the very reason that He's going to come again and gather us up.

So maybe, just maybe...
                     ...when I decided to become a teacher of hormone crazed pre-teens and teens
                                         and when I decided to follow Jesus...
                                                           ....I did sign up for this.

                                                Just Maybe.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Yesterdays and Tomorrows

It's been a month since I last blogged...too long if you ask me. But life has been busy and every time I think I should write, I'm hit with writer's block. I just don't seem to know what to write. I don't want to write about trite and mundane things like what I did all last week but last week some time, I read an article in the paper that nearly made me vomit. So...I thought to myself, "Self, you should write about that."

Now I write this knowing that if my husband reads it, he will want me to quit my job like...yesterday. But we have 51 more days left and I can make it until then.

I read a story a few days ago in The Ledger. It was about a woman at the local Hyatt Hotel near the Lakeland Center that was severely beaten, choked, and sexually assaulted. The story itself shook me. I just don't understand people these days. But then they caught the suspect and THAT is what really got me. I was glad that they arrested the guy but then I read the article and when I saw the name of the suspect, I nearly passed out. The FOURTEEN, yes, I said it, 14 year old, BOY was in my class last year!!!! Now, this is not the first time that a student of mine has been arrested for serious charges. My first year I taught a kid who stabbed a man forty something times and was arrested for attempted murder.

Now, a former student of mine beats and sexually assaults a woman. These are the kinds of students I teach. These are the kinds of students I try to make a difference in. These are the kinds of students that make me somewhat nervous to come to work each day.

My hubby and I have been watching a show on Netflix that I watched 2 seasons of when it was on the air but didn't watch the last 2 seasons. It's called Lincoln Heights and deals with a cop's family moving back to the 'hood and steeping themselves in the resident gang life trying to make a difference. I watch that show now with brand new eyes because I had no idea of this world that existed in Lakeland until I started teaching at the Hill. It's so easy to just get caught up in your own little bubble of a world and forget the violence, pain, grief, and suffering of those only a few miles up the road. It takes a toll on really does. But all I can really do is pray for these kids - pray that someone (if not me) will plant a seed in their lives that will grow into something significant so that they can grow into functional and respectable citizens of this society that we live in.

But, with this, I also breathe a sigh of relief. It's a bittersweet sigh, I admit. I love the people I work with and there are days when I am reminded why I do what I do and have worked where I work for the last 3 years. But, this stage is coming to a close. I have so graciously been offered another job next year and I am running to it, if I may be honest and transparent. I will be teaching 5th grade reading at Shiloh Charter School in Plant City next year. Yes, a CHARTER school. This absolutely thrills me. But, there is that part of me that almost feels as if I am betraying the people I've worked with for the last few years. Is that a strange way to feel? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

But I know this is what God wants for me...because it literally fell into my lap. That's how I know this is right. I'm certainly going to miss the quirky sarcasm of some of my favorite co-workers but I also know that we'll stay in touch through facebook. I really am excited about this new chapter in my life and look forward to all that God has in store for me.

So as I reflect back, I know that I will always remember the yesterdays that got me to this point but I will press on toward the tomorrows that will lead me to where God wants me to be.