Last week, I could barely come up for air.
I dove directly into Monday with a Plan Day, where we were able to get time off campus to do exactly what makes a teacher successful: plan. We spent the first portion grading essays for data, and then we created and cemented lessons for the rest of the semester. We had a pep-rally that same day, and being the cheerleading coach, I was needed back at school at 2 o’clock to coordinate the event with my co-sponsor. I rushed to school and the second I stepped foot on campus, I was scrambling around making sure everything went smoothly. We only had a couple of hiccups, but overall everyone had a great time and our school organizations were properly recognized and celebrated. But my day didn’t end there, I had a football game with my cheerleaders until about 7:30 that evening. That my friends, was only Monday.
Tuesday, we had administrators from another school visiting our campus for insight, so I prepared for that, hoping that I could be as helpful as possible. Normally, Wednesdays are meant for cheer practice, but this week we had parent/teacher conferences at the same time. We moved cheer practice to Tuesday-another night at school until 6:00.
Wednesday was a busy teaching day, introducing expository essays. Anyone that has ever taught writing knows that this is a difficult concept for kids to grasp. After school, we had a dyslexia training before our parent/teacher conferences. Fortunately, there was an online option that I completed during my plan period, allowing me to prepare for the conferences after school. When the 4:00 bell rang, I spent some time before the parents came to ground myself. This week had already been overwhelming with the lack of time and a sense of pressure coming from every direction. I had to remind myself that parents hold undeniable value in the classroom, they help me by affirming structure at home- but nothing is easy about confronting them about their child.
We had six meetings that night, some were positive, and some were meant for improving grades or behavior.
One conference in particular though, included a student that was somewhat new to my class and was really struggling behaviorally. The parents and student arrived to my room at 7:00, the parents were very kind, but the father didn’t speak english, which is pretty common with the population of students I teach. They sat down nervously while various teachers came in and spoke to them about their child. We spoke about common things we all saw in the classroom, both positive and negative. The student seemed receptive for a part of the conversation. She even was somewhat honest and admitted to scenarios where she acted out. However, as the conference progressed, the student began to shut down. She started to become frustrated about the constant confrontation, claiming that she, for the most part, was trying in class, but we kept expressing not hard enough.
At this point, almost all of the student’s teachers were present. It was 7:36 and the parents were still in the room, I was exhausted, unfocused, and I kept hearing the student saying “I try, I try” and we kept saying “nope, you’re better than what you’re giving us.” It was like a continuous circle that inescapably ended in a draw, with no progression and nothing to show for but the clock on the wall. But that’s when I stopped, and I looked around the room.
There were now six teachers surrounding the student. Concern blanketed their faces and threaded into their body language as they stood like resistant, steadfast pillars. Through the midst of the tension, stress and frustration, I stopped and listened to the words spoken to the student, “We are sitting here right now because we aren’t giving up on you” one of the teachers told her, “We are all here because we care, and we aren’t going anywhere.”
We aren’t going anywhere, that was the golden line. Too many of our students don’t believe us when we say that. They have seen too many people leave, too many different environments, too much change, they are experts at thriving and surviving through adversity and instability.
“Through the midst of the tension, stress and frustration, I stopped and listened to the words spoken to the student.”
Because of this though, the teachers at my school don’t accept mediocrity, and they definitely don’t give up. I have witnessed on several occasions my co-workers literally do whatever it takes (like many other educators), to make sure the students get what they need. Whether it’s food, clothing, tutorials at 7:30 in the morning because their parents have to go to work, or an open door because they feel the world is on their shoulders. The teachers and staff at my school are so intimidatingly good at their job that “in the midst” moments happen every day.
They happen when your most difficult class is fully engaged in a lesson.
When two students who dislike each other, offer a helping hand for the sake of their education
When you see the writing skills you taught in their history assignments
When your most defiant student asks for help
When your co-worker stays late to makes sure your car starts, because they knew your battery was dead that morning
When a shy student laughs at your joke
When the reluctant reader gets excited about a book
When your old students come and confide in you during passing period
When a student says “love you too!” as they walk out the door after a trying day
Aren’t these moments why we became educators in the first place? They are what motivate us to keep going during our most insane weeks, what drives us to be the reason students come to school. “In the midst” moments happen every day, they are valuable, always beautiful and deserve to be recognized because they are products of us pouring into our kids. They are there, lingering, even if sometimes we overlook them. These moments are what make the difference. They are proof that we are making a change, and that is the best, most honoring kind of reward.
“In the midst” moments happen every day, they are valuable, always beautiful and deserve to be recognized because they are products of us pouring into our kids.”
In the midst moments don’t happen just in teaching, they happen in every job, in any messy situation. Not a single person goes through life without a chaotic week or day, there would be no growth without them-but there is always a silver lining, and there is always something that can be considered a small win. I want to hear about your “in the midst” moments- the moments that are positive in the midst of the struggle. I want to share them, praise them, allow them to be seen. It’s so easy to be negative during our times of growth, to only see the downside of what we are doing. Seeing the positive moments , no matter how seemingly insignificant, make all the difference in our week, in our students, in our job and in our everyday life. Let’s start looking for them, and then share them, over and over again, until the positivity spreads among others, they will inevitably start looking too.