Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 5: When I think about my worst memory as a teacher...

     I have an easy answer to the question: what is my worst memory of my short teaching career?  vandalism.  I suppose I only wander down this avenue off memory lane because of the retrospective point of view of 'what was the best & worst'.  I had the same portable classroom all 3+ years at my school, and I was a victim of vandalism 3 times.

     The worst of the all 3 times was because I couldn't tell if it was personal or not.  The attack felt personal, but at the same time I had no reason to believe any of my students would behave in such a way.  I simply had no suspects or reasons to think it was a student from my class.  However, it is something I still am unsure of to this day.

    What I remember about that day is the feeling of giving up, of 'how do I clean this up', of why would anybody do this, of why did they pick me?  My room was vandalized that time with a kind of spray foam- the kind that seals things up really well.  I remember the back door to my room was sealed shut & had to be opened somehow.  I think the janitors or school staff fixed that for me.  I remember the desks being dirty- the whole room being dirty.  It just came back to me- they dispensed the fire extinguisher off in my room.  It was everywhere & covered every thing.

     I remember my neighbor coming over to console me.  She helped me start cleaning the desks up & she helped me feel like it wasn't a hopeless cause.  I know she is a bright light in my memories of teaching- she teaches English like I had never seen before & I honestly wished I could take her class. A brilliant, vivacious, extraordinary woman who taught her students with great passion.  She is an unsung hero who lives in many students' memories I'm confident, and she continues to inspire today.  Thank you my dear friend- I loved working alongside you!

I had to teach students that day.  I wiped off their desks and seats with some 409 & paper towels, and we did out best.

     I remember being angry because I had a coffee mug on my desk that said "Good Morning" on the side, and it was filled up with my spare pencils & some random paperclips & foam sealed shut.  I will never forget one of my students who was in the lacrosse club I sponsored coming in & helping me fix that cup.  I would have thrown it away as a lost cause, but he was kind.  He found some way to clean out that foam seal stuff & gave me back the cup.  I don't remember many other details about that day, but I remember being so thankful for his kindness.  It was probably the main reason I didn't believe I was a target of one of my own student's malice & discontent.

I share this worst story because it had nothing to do with my job really.  I don't think it is a unique occurrence, because I know it happened to me multiple times on different levels.  But really, I think it just hurt the worst because it felt like a violation of all I gave away on a daily basis.  The overtime hours I worked, the volunteer activities I participated in, the personal time & money I freely gave to my students.  It felt like someone saying, "see? none of what you do matters.  See how easily it can be destroyed."

The truth though?  Is that was a lie.

     What I take away from that day was those impactful moments of kindness & love from a fellow teacher & a student of mine.  They will always be special to me & I won't give that up.  I had a really bad day, but I keep in my heart & mind the positive feedback from them.  I mattered & I could get up and keep going.  I thank the Lord for those two individuals who He used to speak life back into me in a day that was full of sadness.  Being a teacher is hard, but being a teacher is painful when you care deeply for those in your classes and around your school.  You open yourself up to rejection & sometimes you are rejected.  But the offer extended is valuable, and I'm thankful to the Lord that He uses even the bad things to make beautiful memories.


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