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Yesterday, when I walked up to a parent who had just come in the center and asked what I could do to help her, she gave me a long look over and accusingly said, “You are perky aren’t you?”  I think I have reinvented myself as the perkiest teacher in all of south L.A.  My new center is way more hood than my old one, yet, the students still have many similarities.  Cracking their hard shell is one of my very favorite things about teaching high school.  They come in, all walled up, armed and ready to do some major teacher/student battle.  It takes a lot of intention on my part, but positivity and lots of smiles do a lot to diffuse any apprehension and anger the students have brought with them into the classroom.

I think that teaching in an academic recovery setting is like dancing.  Its a dance between student and teacher, with all the fun of the cha cha, the drama of the tango, and the formality of the waltz.  All of the dance steps carry emotions with them too.  I feel like part of what makes me a good teacher is that I give myself fully to the process, I listen to the music and perform the dance steps, fully experiencing the movement of each step.  During my time as a teacher I have cried with disappointment, broken hearted over students who ran away; I have grieved alongside a student who miscarried a baby that she wanted so badly.  I have also cried happy tears of pride and delight in the accomplishment of students who graduate, changing their family tree as the very first high school graduate in their family.

On a daily basis, I overflow with positivity and smiles and rainbows, with empathy and discipline and energy, not to mention actually using my brain for Algebra and essay help!  By the end of the day, I find myself totally empty.  I tend to give my whole self to things, and my job as a teacher is no exception.  I feel like I invest to a fault; my boundaries are too permeable.  Where is the balance in this dance?  How can I engage fully, yet not come home empty?  I know I put a lot of pressure on myself to more or less save the world, to be an extension of God’s love to these teens.  Balance is necessary so that I don’t burn out, which absolutely will happen sooner rather than later if I keep this up.  Today in yoga class I set the intention of letting work go, and filling my tank back up with love, energy, and peace.  I think the main thing I need to remember is that its not about being the best teacher ever, but its about doing my best each day with what I have to give.

One Response to “I am teacher, hear me roar”


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