Picking up

27 Jan



Without going into detail, my world shattered in late December. Though things have “settled” a bit, I still find myself, in the middle of one task or another, suddenly standing still, wondering “How on earth did I get here?” and “This is NOT where I am supposed to be.” And to be quite honest, I’m having a hard time focusing on anything, from cooking (which I love) to school (which I usually love).

This happens to students all the time. Parents lose their jobs, or divorce, or even die. Families move across town, across the country, or across the world. Shootings. The fear of shootings. Violence at home, or in the neighborhood. Bullying. Family members who fall ill. Numerous other events that happen every day.

Just like me, these students – these children – are expected to go on as if nothing has happened. Rarely are teachers even aware of what, specifically, is affecting their students lives – but usually they can tell something is going on. Students lose focus, act out in class, neglect their homework, and otherwise “act out.” At this age, they are not capable of putting their feelings into words, they only know that something is wrong, so they do these things, to prove that life is not working right for them.

I have been lucky these past few weeks, to discover who my real friends are. Family members and friends have provided support, encouragement, and help, as I struggle to pick up the pieces. As teachers, we must be a rock for our students. Even when we don’t know what is wrong, it is our job to sift through the clues, be the glue and the support, and help our students “fix” their lives, as best we can.

It’s not all about teaching reading and math. As John Spencer says, it’s about love. “Real love. Muddy love.” Really, that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

6 Responses to “Picking up”

  1. lotsirb January 27, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    You make a good point. Students often don’t have the skill to put their emotions into words. It is important for us to be a strong structure, with consistent rules and expectations, to help them weather their storms. Teachers, also, need generous support to navigate school, work, personal battles…and successes as well. I don’t think I’m out of line when I say this cohort is more than willing to be there for you, and each other. I’m happy to offer my shoulder to lean on.

    • teacherbecoming2013 January 27, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

      Thanks for the hugs and kind words 🙂 I firmly believe that we are going to be more successful teachers than other cohorts because we have such a strong community. Even though we will not be working together, I know I will be able to rely on all of you for advice, support, and ideas, throughout my career.
      Maybe that’s something that needs to be done, to improve the state of education – maybe teachers need to be part of a community of support to help navigate these sometimes stormy seas. I think we are seeing a strong example of teacher community here in Seattle where teachers are, collectively, refusing to give the MAP test.

  2. ArtofTeaching January 27, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    “Even when we don’t know what is wrong, it is our job to sift through the clues, be the glue and the support, and help our students “fix” their lives, as best we can.” That is so powerful and very true. My students are so young and I’m amazed by some of the hardships they’ve experienced or are experiencing- and you’re right, sometimes they aren’t capable of putting that into words. It’s so important to be attuned to our kids, to be flexible to their needs, and a listening ear.
    Also I’m so sorry that you were going through something so difficult. And I agree with the previous comment- our cohort is just full to the brim of love for you! If you ever want to chat, or share some orange juice and scrumptious gluten free treats (!), let me know!

    • teacherbecoming2013 January 27, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

      I am constantly amazed at how strong these students are. Yes, I went through a difficult time lately, but many of the students I have worked with have seen more difficulty in 8 years than most people see in their entire lifetime. And if they can pick up and power on, then so can I!

  3. teachingsparkle January 30, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Reading this blog entry and the comments following gave me goosebumps. I am so sorry that you are going through such a difficult time, but it takes a very strong person to be able to reflect on what has happened and connect that with your passion for education and your students. Our students really are going through so much that we don’t even know about. I know a few students in my class are effected by poverty and I can’t even begin to understand the struggles they encounter on a daily basis. Yet they come to school, and work hard, and smile, and laugh. Yes, sometimes they act out in many different ways, but they are in class, doing the best they can. I couldn’t agree more that our cohort is filled with love and we will be a helping hand to each other as we embark on our first year of teaching. You never know, maybe some of us will work together. I know two people from last years cohort who got jobs at the same school! 🙂


  1. No more theory, put it into practice. | Teacher, Becoming. - March 15, 2013

    […] who have trouble and changes at home, and how it affects their learning. So I shared. A little. I opened up my private life to the internet and made my thoughts public. It was hard, but I feel it is important to always remember that our […]

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