Monday, 20 April 2015

Where Have I Been?

Well, I must say it has been a little too long since my last post - BUT - with semi-good reason! Since my last post I have been on one of the biggest learning curves of my life. Back in October I shared about the fact that I FINALLY landed my permanent position in my teaching career. A lot has happened since then, A LOT!

I've come to conquer something that I never dreamed that I could...and I'm grateful I did. To be honest, when I accepted my role as Grade 8 Teacher - I was completely and entirely TERRIFIED! ME? Teach 13 and 14 year old beings?! Who the heck is letting this happen? I! I'm like some child whisperer for 6 year olds...and even though I was smiling and happy to accept a contract no matter the grade level - I was hiding behind so much fear of failure. I spent the first month in basically what felt like a tornado of emotion. Learning how to connect with these students was beyond my scope. "Okay friends show me you're ready..." and "hands to yourself" didn't quite cut it!

With each attempt to be positive, upbeat and fun - students were staring at me like I had 5 heads, an unforeseen growth on my face and literally they were looking for ways to make me crumble! Who could blame them though? These kids are 9 years in and tired of the teacher changes, my particular group had already had 3 teachers in two months...like they were going to buy in to me...

Each day I would search for ways to connect with these students, to show them that I genuinely cared about their well-being and future. I was completely exhausted. Teaching little ones is natural for me teaching older ones is not. Above all the struggles though, I have found a place to connect with these students naturally too. It didn't come without a deep level of soul searching, self love though.

What I've come to realize over the last 6 months of my teaching and learning journey, is that this is a really important stage in the game for these students. And that means, as an educator, we have a chance to positively support this stage through being a safe space for these students to confide, share, learn, grow and be. Yup, they have NO idea who they are yet, but they are learning...and so, they need to just...be...

After a couple months of what felt like I was going crazy to show these kids I cared, they started to come around. I had to be a strong, confident version of myself that I didn't always see come out my daily life. I had to be vulnerable but firm and consistent. These students need someone to relate to, someone to tell them that all their hormonal changes are O-K! They need to be guided to embrace them and not think that every mistake is the end of the world. Most importantly, they need someone to listen to them and gently show them that they have choices...

Once I took a step back from their harsh language, lack of inhibition and testing boundaries in behaviour I was able to see some pretty magnificent people. People who are craving structure, guidance, and learning but just can't admit it because of all of the outside pressures from peers, media, home, changing.

This last year has pushed me SOOOOO far out of my comfort zone, and I found I actually enjoy teaching older students, in fact it motivated me to work REALLY hard to provide the best possible experience for them. It didn't come without some tears to friends, questioning of the universe and learning to trust the process of life no matter what you are presented with.

Do I see myself staying here? Let's just say...I'm grateful for the lessons, glad I've found clarity and super excited to head back to Grade One...a place that is kind of like home to me...where my heart is...Will I ever go back? Perhaps, one day...but for now I will enjoy the next two months in Grade 8 and hopefully create a positive change for these students that they can carry with them through the good and bad times.