At the end of my rope

I have loved my pre-internship this semester. I was placed with a fun, hard-working partner and a mentor teacher who truly cares about her students and encourages Barbara and me. As someone trying to become a confident, capable teacher, there’s sometimes nothing better than hearing, “It’s ok. They don’t always listen to me, either. They are learning. Keep going.”

I’ve been struggling to find a word that best describes our second-graders, because there probably isn’t just one that will do the trick. They are fun. Funny. Interesting. Smart. Struggling. Creative. Artists. Rambunctious. Loud. Mostly, they are challenging. While they reinforce some of my beliefs about teaching, they challenge others. They challenge me to manage the classroom better, to be more enthusiastic, and to work harder.

They challenge my patience.

One student in particular is especially hard for me to love. Let’s call her K. K spends much of her day in trouble, but doesn’t care. She is smart, but doesn’t listen to you. She longs to have friends, but is mean to her classmates. Clearly, something in our classroom isn’t working for her, but I’ve struggled to find a solution for it. With less than two weeks left in my placement, I felt myself giving up.

During this past week, we spent several days going over a grammar concept. I was attempting to clarify it a little on Thursday, and K was driving. me. crazy. She would not face the front, she would not stop talking, she would not stop bothering the kids sitting next to her. At the end of the lesson, I was annoyed with her and not sure the kids understood what I was explaining. As they for P.E., she came up to me and said, “Ms. Jameson, so-and-so was laughing at me and–”

I cut her off and said, “K, I don’t care.” Ugh. Foot? Meet mouth.

The last thing I EVER want to make my students think is that I don’t care about them or what’s important to them. In that moment, I let my frustration get the best of me and lost my cool. I spent the rest of the day mad at myself and just hoping she knows I care despite what my words & actions indicated.

Later, I apologized and talked to her about what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. When it comes time to teach another lesson, I’m not sure she’ll care to keep up her end of the deal. But oh well.

I never want to be a teacher who, near the end of my career, says I am burnt out. At the same time, I certainly understand how people can get there. In my current placement, I don’t have anything CLOSE to the responsibilities of a full-time teacher, and yet I’ve already felt myself at the end of my rope with this particular child.

That’s when I heard God gently telling me, “See? You don’t have enough energy, patience, knowledge, or skills to do this on your own. You need some of mine.”

So here’s to praying my rope will grow a little longer next week.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” –Philippians 4:13

EDIT: As I re-read this post, I realized I made a mistake with the same grammar concept I was trying to teach my students. hahaha…talk about humbling!

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