Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Life is always Fehr for me. Or so I have been told.

    Life is not fair. It's best to learn that lesson fast because it isn't. Luckily for us, God is undeniably fair. It may not always seem that way because such awful things can and do happen, but everything will balance out eventually.
    When I was student teaching I was at a very difficult school. It was Title 1, it was in a low-income area, and the kids in my class had to deal with a lot of issues that I had never had to deal with as an adult. It was really quite a wake up call. Not everywhere, even in Utah, was as safe and clean as I had previously thought.
    I turned twenty two that year and had the pleasure of spending the whole year in one class. That was how the U did practicums. For the first half of the year I went to the class on Monday and Tuesday and observed until I felt comfortable teaching. Then I went to classes at the U the rest of the week. The second half of the year I was in the classroom full time. My cooperating teacher was great. In that sense I definitely had a one up on a lot of the other people in my cohort. She let me go at my own pace and was always ready to help when I needed her. My class, however, was difficult. They were a troubled bunch of kids, some more than others. There were many personality issues. There were kids who needed a lot of attention, there were kids who needed a lot of academic help, there were kids who couldn't stop talking, and then there was me. I didn't know how to handle any of them. Theory and practice are completely different and I only knew theory. As I began to take over I struggled a lot. There was one kid in my class who had so much pent up anger and disregard for authority that he made me cry weekly. (This was before I was super weepy.) He used to say and do things that I didn't know how to control and I definitely didn't understand. I think he spent most of the year in the office and I spent most of it pulling my hair out. I used to get home at night and wonder what on earth I had gotten myself into. I seriously thought about getting the teaching degree then going into a different field. As far as I could see, teaching was a nearly thankless task. But there were moments. Not all of my kids gave me nightmares and anxiety. Some of them were very sweet and very trusting. I loved to see understanding flash in eyes as I taught. I liked to see the happy faces who were eager to learn first thing in the morning. I liked to a long thought out lesson go over well (that does not always happen). There were moments.
     Throughout that year, I found myself lamenting the unfairness of my situation. Why was my class so hard? Why was I losing sleep? Why was I not getting paid for the sometimes daily hell I was going through? At times, it was hard to see the positive. I had a wonderful husband working his butt off to support me while I finished school. I had a great cooperating teacher who supported me consistently and taught me a lot more than I realized. I wasn't paying rent. And, I was learning so much. 
    When I finished my practicum at the end of March I applied for a substituting job in Granite School District. It was a way to earn money and scope at job opportunities ( I had resigned myself to fact that I needed to get a job and let Nick do school even if it was sometimes awful). Almost immediately after signing the papers I was called by a principal and asked to interview for a long term sub position in fifth grade. I accepted and got the job. I was warned that this particular fifth grade class was rough and that I would have to be tough. I figured that wasn't anything new.
    I remember going in to the school to plan lessons over Spring Break. The teacher hadn't left any plans and I was kind of lost. However, I found the stuff I needed and planned enough to get me through a week. I went in the next Monday ready to be a nazi and found that this "difficult" group of kids could not hold a candle to my own class. All of the unfairness and sleeplessness of the year had made me really tough. I had learned a lot of management skills even if they hadn't worked so well in my student teaching class. I was fine. 
    That difficult fifth grade class and my behavior management led to my current job. In fact, I have the same classroom that I long term subbed in. My first year of teaching was hard but it had more to do with learning to do everything than it did with the kids. As far as I was concerned, my class was angelic. They did what I asked, they liked each other, the tried, no one had a swearing fit in the back of the room, it was great. And, this year is even better.
     Looking back on that painful year of student teaching I am so grateful that I had the experience as well as the support that I did. Without it, I don't know that I would love my job as much as I do. Teaching is still hard and under-appreciated but I love it. So far, the pain and the pleasure has balanced out. It didn't all happen right away but the bad was worth the good.

    I think the same principle must apply to everything because, as I said earlier, God is fair even if life isn't. For some things, the recompense isn't going to come in this life. We may have to wait for the next. We need to remember that God is just, that he is fair, and that he loves us.


  1. That class still gives me nightmares. And I was so lucky to have you with me that year. I truly would not have made it through without you!