Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting Along with Others

You know I tutor kindergartners three hours a day, four days a week, right, at my neighborhood school? I did this last year at a different school. I love the kids, the work, and the chance for adult casual, collegial interactions. I like to eat lunch in the staff lunchroom.

At my last school, I learned a lot from teachers during lunch. Usually there would just be one at a time, and I was the main person for them to talk with, and they kindly answered my queries about how to handle this, how to respond to that.

This year, the lunch room table is full of teachers talking to each other. Mostly I listen. But it can get awfully dark. School is -- really hard. Not for me, but for the real teachers. Last year and this, there were kindergartners who hurt teachers, kids who intentionally punch teachers in the face, throw stones at them, and kick. In my school, there are aides who work full-time with one disruptive boy; it's hard not to worry about him getting his hands on a gun in few years.

So early this week, I said, I would love to hear one good thing from somebody!

So one of the aides told a quick anecdote about a success. I said, I love that.

Then one of the other teachers said, This is our time to vent. We're endlessly upbeat in our classrooms. We have to have some time to let down.

I readily agreed, and decided to be quiet.

So yesterday, I get to school, I'm walking down the hall, and I cross paths with the aide with the good story. I said "Hi ____," and she just kept walking.

Ouch! Honestly, I could have teared up.

Then I thought, You don't know what's on her mind. Are you looking for pain and sorrow? Cut it out! You can give this story the "She cut me" title, or you can call it, "She sure is absorbed in her work."

I decided on the latter. But I had to make myself go to the lunchroom at lunch time. I thought, I'll just heat up my food, and if everybody hates me, I can go back downstairs to eat.

But there was a new aide there, who seems to like me, and the lunch went fine, and I decided my problem was thinking the whole world revolves around me, as if teachers have any time and attention left at all for worrying about what Mary Davies thinks or feels.

Will I ever get old enough to stop learning this?


Lacey in the City said...

It's a good perspective that you are working toward...hard to always remember. I can't imagine how hard it is to be a teacher these days. They are there to pass on knowledge, but end up being so much more to these kids.

Franklin Furlong said...

No. Probably not. I have the same problem, constantly absorbed in my reactions to events and other people. Alot of times, I have to stop, just stop.... and realize I have no facts for the story I just made up for myself. Usually, the explanation is that I reacted that way because of some past experience.

But you're trying, AND trying to be aware. Good for you, Mary.

Mom said...

I felt sad reading about your day but I'm so glad you don't give up or dismiss others feelings. You are a gift to those children.

Sarah said...

Of course, people need to vent. Being a school employee myself, schools are stressful places. But I think your question was a great one (one that I occasionally use), one that helps remind us to consider the good. What do we have if we lose our perspective?


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