Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Worst Times Make for the Best Stories

 Giving Raven a bath after a particularly gross blowout (which, coincidentally, is always more funny after the fact than during)

I was thinking the other day about how I hardly ever blog about teaching anymore. I also was thinking that when people ask me lately about how my job is going, I don't have much to say other than, "Great! I have a wonderful group of students this year."

This is a Very Good Thing.

But it did get me thinking, because I used to blog about teaching all the time--a couple times a week usually. So what happened?

And as I looked back at the two years where I blogged regularly about my experiences at the school, it hit me:

It was because I desperately needed an outlet--a way to make sure my voice was being heard (since it seemed that my students were all ignoring 80% of what came out of my mouth). My first two years of teaching were grueling and exhausting and rip-my-hair-out frustrating. When someone asked me how I was liking my job during those two years, they were often slammed with a mile-long response that encompassed everything from the latest prank one of my students had pulled to the crazy workload I felt like I was drowning under. Add in the fact that I was under intense scrutiny because I was a new teacher, and it's amazing I didn't have even more meltdowns than I did those first two years.

But now?

Now I have 3-4 years' worth (depending on the subject) of materials and lesson plans and experience, and I've got my classroom management plan down to a science. In fact, the most exciting thing that's happened lately is that I had a student tie his shoelace around his desk legs because he was bored (which I was then forced to cut off), and I made two students cry during parent teacher conferences last week because their parents were furious with them that they hadn't been turning anything in.

Two years ago, I had a student who rubber-banded together several desks in the back just so that the students in later classes wouldn't be able to move their desks, and I made students (mostly boys) cry on almost a daily basis when I had to enforce some "crazy" classroom rule (like that they had to actually work on their assignments or that they couldn't take off their shoes and try to make other people smell them). Yeah, my first two years of teaching were a bit rough (biggest understatement ever).

But you know what I realized?

We may not enjoy going through all those hard, trying, frustrating times, but they definitely make for the best stories.

I've been trying to remind myself of this fact lately as I've been grumbling to myself about not being able to eat gluten or about the fact that I've been off Prednisone for almost a month and still haven't lost ANY weight (despite eating well and continuing to exercise) or when I think about how unsure our job situation is later this year.

The truth is, the stories worth telling are born out of tough times and tribulation, and even though no one likes to go through those times, they are what makes us who we are--they are what make our life stories worth sharing.

So even though it's not easy to try and re-frame a bad situation or a trying experience or a difficult challenge, remind yourself that it is precisely those things that will give you stories to share, empathy to feel, and the ability to enjoy the good times much more thoroughly later on.

I'd love to hear how some of your worst times turned into your best stories---please share!

Oh, and in case you need proof of the brutality of my first two years of teaching:

- Things I Wanted to Say to My Students Yesterday (But Didn't)
- Okay, I Have to Talk Teaching (Bear with Me)
- Tuesday Tell-All, First Day of School Edition
- How Do You Know If You've Chosen the Right Job?
                       the ideas in that last post later cropped up again when I posted: "How do you stop hating your job?"

3 comments:

  1. Don't need proof, I taught those same students. Though, I will go back and read your stories for the entertainment value and to remind myself how bad it was! Isn't this year awesome!? I miss those kiddos so much! They are an amazing group of kids! I'm glad you stuck it out through those first few years, you're a great teacher!

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    1. Thanks, Amy! I'm so glad I stuck it out too because if I would have left after THAT GROUP of kids, I never would have come back to teaching, and I really do enjoy it! They really are a great group of students this year!

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  2. Oh man, it does sound like you've had some tough years! Good for you for sticking it out! I'm glad you came away with lots of wisdom and some funny (now!) stories! :)

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