Sometimes Lent really feels like Lent. A season of anguish, prayer, waiting, prayer, sadness, prayer, and thankfully, grace.
I’ve been attempting to be intentional in my practices. All of my practices.
I’ve been attempting to choose a feeling that I want students to gain from my classroom each day, or a thought that will perhaps stick with some of them. I’ve been attempting to be intentional in this practice.
Today, my focus was building confidence – attempting to get students thinking about what makes them feel successful and confident and how they have control over that feeling in all parts of their life.
However, today we returned from Spring Break, and as is typical of a Monday – and of my want to be on top of things, my computer failed to work (user error, come to find out). I had lesson planned and created interactive slides and really felt prepared, and then had none of that at my disposal – but still wanted to try to help students remember that they are successful in all sorts of areas of their lives – so for our writing time I asked them to write about their successes and about the situations in which they feel confident. I had them follow up with one sentence that started “I would feel successful in school if….”
Things went pretty well. Students engaged in the writing, most came up with clear situations where they feel successful – or with examples of people who help them feel successful. Reading through their writing toward the end of my day, I was so happy to see all of the areas of their lives where they feel successful, and even to see the want to be successful in school and some plans of creating space for feeling successful. And then there were the special few students who used this opportunity to tell me that they would feel successful in school if they had a better teacher. Special few who I had seen text, who I know are friends, and who really have hated my class. I sat at my desk and cried.
It’s so easy to forget that people in authority have feelings. I remember the comments made about teachers, about principals, the silly, meaningless jokes – and I feel like I should write to every teacher I’ve ever had and tell them what fabulous human beings they are – what fortitude they have, and how much I appreciate their willingness to engaged daily with people who actively (even if unconsciously) tried to break them. All of my teachers – I don’t know that I ever said anything, but I never stopped the comments – I’m sorry.
I’m tired of constantly thinking I’m not good enough. Of trying so hard all the time, and never having the work done on the other side. Better teachers. I hope students find their better teachers – I also hope students realize that it takes the student stepping up and taking the education on for themselves – actively seeking knowledge – wanting to learn – recognizing opportunities. It’s not the job of a teacher to just disseminate information – it’s the job of the student to learn – regardless of who is teaching.
In any case, it felt very appropriate today as I came home – still sad, still trying to figure out how to change the minds of students who will never ever appreciate that I’m a human being and doing my best – to pick up today’s Lent reading and be face to face with Psalm 23. Appropriate too, that this was not an earth shattering, life changing, specific to my situation Psalm, but instead a quiet friendly reminder. I could easily relate my situation to walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I could dream of quiet waters and calm pastures, but instead, really, rather than reading this literally or with any life-changing/mind-changing metaphorical analysis – I read and felt comfort in the reading.
I feel like a friend I’ve known since I was small has sidled up and reminded me that nothing has changed, that I’m still loved – that it never was about being good enough, but resting in the grace that I don’t have to be. This verse, along with a few others that often play in my mind – I often think of them as cliche and was originally taught them through the lens of moralistic evangelical readings – but I’ve slowly moved away from morals and am attempting to embrace Grace as the main focus. Grace to be loved even in darkness, to trust that there is light at the end of every tunnel – and that this world really is broken, but it’s not my job to fix it, just to help carry the brokenness and to be present in the struggle to Love in the midst of it all.
Take heart friends. Easter is coming.