April 3, 2009

When is a push more of a shove?

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.


  1. God bless you, Miss LAR! You are one heckuva woman! I could just hug that student of yours... and you too.

  2. Those kids are definitely lucky to have you!

  3. not being able to help during those dumb test is truly heartbreaking! i know exactly what you mean.

  4. Aw, so sweet. I agree, lucky kids to have you.

  5. Ugh. My daughter takes the CRCT test at the end of April. I really hope if she has a freak out her teacher can give an equally good pep talk to her.

  6. This was a VERY interesting post. At first I thought it was going to be one of those domestic abuse "I didnt hit her/him, I pushed..." type of posts... I am SO guilty of this with my son. I want him to be the brightest that he can be, and sometimes I feel like I shove him. I was reading at age 3, and he's 6 and just starting to read. I have to learn to push and not shove. All that is needed is a little "PEP TALK" and its all good *hint hint*

  7. What an awesome post. I look up to you as a runner and now can only hope my daughters can find a teacher like you. You are amazing!

  8. You're a saint. And quite a role model (and not just for kids).