I have sat down and written this post three times in the last two days. When I come to the end, I just can't push publish. Why? Because what came out of my fingers was not aligned with my purpose for writing. When I read back at what I wrote, it was more of a "Dear Diary" of my complaints. Of plot twists and frustration in my classroom during one day- but more so, it was the inner dialogue that I am ashamed that was in my head. My friend, Alice Keeler, happened to be the "lucky" recipient of some of those thoughts, on this particular day. And these were her words: "These are not "Cori" statements, you are becoming the "grouchy teacher". Oh crap! She was right. Time to wake up! So the purpose here is not to talk about all of the things that went wrong, all of the inner and outer blaming I did. We all have "not so good" days. We are human and we need to be ok with being human. I often say that perfection is fiction, it's impossible. I also say that reflection on our fails and struggle are an important part of our growth journey...so here it is:
“Please don’t give up on my son, too, Ms. Orlando.” - were the words I heard, this past Monday. Those were the words that I NEEDED to hear, for a much required “wake up call”. Those are the words that have bounced around both my head and my heart for the last seven days. Those are the words that I will NEVER forget, because those words are life altering.
It was only a few short months ago, when this same parent spoke with me after school and shared some other words, that will also stick with me forever. “Thank you for the way that you treat my son. He has always believed that he was “bad” or “in trouble” for the way he acts. Thank you for focusing on the positive.”.
Same kid, two different heart-breaks. What gives? What gives is...me. I am human and I am imperfect. I fall...I fail...I have bad days- just like you.
I am choosing to be vulnerable and share my truths here, because I believe that we learn from these defining moments, ourselves- but I also believe in the power of stories and sharing. I believe that these stories- the “non-Pollyanna” stories are what connect us. So my hope is that my reflection, may help others to reflect and grow as well.
Here it is...
Monday was a tough teacher day. It doesn't matter what happened. It doesn't matter why. It doesn't matter who. None of that matters. It happens...to all of us. What matters was how I handled the day and it wasn't stellar. In fact, it was down right shameful, in my book.
I didn't loose my cool. I didn't raise my voice. Neither are my style. But what I did do, was let each "bump" pile up onto the next and the next until I was faced with a mountain that I just couldn't climb that day. And I caved.
I knew we, as a class, needed a restart- but I needed some time to think it through. So I gave my kids a Social Studies "newspaper" that I knew was well beyond most of their reading. I knew that the content was crap (there was an article about Palo Alto- no offense to Palo Alto, but I don't know what the purpose or learning was for my kids). There was a cross-word puzzle on the back...a CROSSWORD PUZZLE! It hurt. But unfortunately, I did it anyway. I could only let this go on for about 10 minutes. I changed it up and got them on the digital version where they could at least listen to it (for those that couldn't read), there were also videos and other "golden eggs". My directions "click around and be prepared to share three things you learned about the site." That felt a bit better, but still not good.
Regardless- my learning here and when reading through my other versions of this story- I made it about me. Me...me...me. And that is unacceptable.
I literally just said in my CUE Boom (I start around 18:50) a few weeks ago: "We need to be brutally humble practitioners of self reflection in order to grow. For me, that means taking myself out of the equation. This education gig isn't about me, it's about the kids" (Thank you FB closed captioning- (see below)- no running away from my own words allowed).
But it was when the parent looked at me, with tears building and pleaded with me to not "give up on her son" I just crumbled. I let me frustration of the day show through, I didn't keep it tucked in. I reassured her that I would never give up on her son. I admitted he had many struggles that day. That I had struggles that day. That as a class, we had struggles that day. But I also told her that struggle is part of life and tomorrow is a new day and we will figure it out together.
I NEVER want someone to have to question my commitment to them or their child, again.
So my purpose in sharing is this... We are all going to get frustrated, we are all going to fall down, we are all going to react and act...we are all human and must treat ourselves and others as such. I apologize to my students often. And then I talk them through my reflection and #failforward process. I think that is important for them, and it's important for me.
My call to action is this:
- Be kind to yourself
- If you fail - #failforward, #reflectforward, #learnforward, #growforward and #shareforward
- Reflect and then hit "re-start"
- Put kids at the heart of all you do - put them in front of you
- When in doubt, just teach your ass off and love on kids