I've always been one to really push the limits in a lot of different ways. Starting this week, extending on to April 19, a lot of deadlines will be met. I turned in my portfolio on Tuesday; we had state testing this week, and then the marathon. Yesterday was a real wake-up call about how my pushing is more of shoving.
A lot of times, I lack self-confidence in my running and in my looks. That is no secret. One thing I am very confident about is my teaching. I know that Room 9A's "got it goin' on." I teach at a school labeled in "poverty" with 87% qualifying for free government meals. With that is the stereotype that these students can't excel the way students from higher incomes do. One thing I pride myself on, is that I push my students to reach their full potential. I have seen many students overcome some pretty big obstacles of learning. Fortunately, our school's test scores have ranked up there with the big dogs for the past 3 years. This has not come without effort.
The kids and my coworkers will tell you how hard I push the kids. The thing is, I love them, too. I teach them in a fun way, but I do push them. We began testing Monday and continued through today. Wednesday morning, we had the longest test- three hours. During the test, a few of the kids raised their hands and asked me for help, which we were not allowed to give them. This alone is heart-breaking b/c during regular lessons, I NEVER refuse to help the children. Back to the story.
Thursday, after a tiring Wednesday, One of my struggling readers raised his hand and asked me for help, which I obviously had to refuse. He then began to cry. He said, "I just don't understand." It was at that moment, I realized the extent of my pushing. This boy wanted it so bad and he just couldn't get it! I had pushed him to the feeling of failure.
One amazing this about children is that they are resilient. Seriously, after a few minutes of coaching and talking, the boy had his mojo back and all was well. I then walked around the classroom analyzing the whole situation. I wanted to punch myself in the face for the pressure I had put on these children. It's no wonder, though. I put more pressure on myself. I will try to hold the conversation I had with the sweet boy in my memory for days when I feel like I have failed. It went something like this:
Him: I just don't understand.
Me: I know. I really, really wish I could help you. Just do your best.
Him: (still crying, not saying anything)
Me: Listen, just do your very, very best, and that's all anyone is asking of you. You are smart in so many things; this is just a hard part of the test. Remember how well you did in math yesterday? This test is not the end of the world. I know I've made it seem like a big deal. I just wanted you guys to try hard.
Him: Can I skip this one?
Me: Yes. Why don't you go on to the next one and see if you can get that.
Him: Okay (tears are drying now)
So, people- when I am downing myself next week or month or whenever, remind me of this post and the pressure I put on myself and those special to me.