Trickling rain drops were my morning symphony and confirmed that I should write about what was tugging at me most. To know me is to know I’m in love with journals and inspirational quotes (and eating, LOL). While perusing in the bookstore last weekend I came across this quote, not knowing how realistic it would become for me this week.
So, if you’re like me, you have (at least) a foggy idea of what you’d like to do in the summer. I did – but I ended up doing something totally unexpected. I’m teaching English to high school students, but not just any students.
These students are at a charter school. Most have GPAs (Grade Point Averages) less than one (on a scale of 1-5). Some have their own children, are homeless, former inmates, over-aged, often irreverent and many are from single parent homes, among other things. All – are larger than me.
I didn’t wake up and decide this was my calling. I was asked by someone I respected and trusted. I considered it reluctantly, quite honestly, because I was a bit afraid; but, there was something that intrigued me about the notion. So I consented. My first few days started a week and a half ago.
To say it was challenging was an understatement. Oh, I brought my zealous ideas of projects and homework and engaging lessons, but initially our feelings were not mutual. I endured the constant references as “Miss,” reminding them that there was actually a last name attached to the abbreviation before my name, but somewhere in between…something happened.
I poured into these students the same excitement, compassion, and enthusiasm that I have into every class I’ve taught before – if not a little more. After they decided that I truly had their best interest at heart, they transitioned. Students who conveyed their contempt for homework, come find me early in the morning, before their classes to let me know they’ve completed it.
Some who are no longer required to be there in the afternoon, attend my classes voluntarily. Not for a grade, not for credit – because they’re learning and just want to stay and participate. Others who were planning to transfer have asked if I’m returning for the fall, pledging to return if I’m there.
I’d be remiss to say it’s been a cake walk. There have been many days when I’ve felt frustrated and perturbed, primarily because some opt to talk excessively and many play as if they are in elementary school.
Nevertheless, a stern, but loving voice goes a long way. I am most pleased when they express that they are enamored with the environment that I’ve created – one that is warm, inviting, and nurturing both visually and mentally – and most importantly, that “We learn something in your class.”
Many of these students are at their last stop of opportunity. Some have made choices that were so poor, that they’ve been denied entry into other campuses. As an educator, being there reminded me that these children have had quite a few storms in their lives. Far more than many adults have experienced.
Quickly building a rapport, they have shared storms that left me speechless…momentarily. Because I went on to show them the silver lining on those clouds. I don’t want them to feel powerless in their circumstances when I know that their perseverance and commitment can help them see their way out of tragedies.
I’m pleased to inform you – that it’s working. Many of them are now dancing in the rain. Not only have they reignited their interest in learning, they believe they have the ability to escape “mediocrity” (our first vocabulary word). I shocked myself by taking on a commitment I said I would never consider; but, I have to tell you, teaching these students and watching them grow has been the most rewarding assignment of my career.
Case in Point: So often, we are overwhelmed by our personal circumstances. Depending on the gravity, we concede to resolutions that are from the best. But why? Let’s stop waiting until skies are blue and rainbows are plenty. That won’t always happen, but the rain that others believed would dampen our party could otherwise be used to wash away our sorrows. Find the silver lining. It’s there. You can turn your problems into powerful possibilities…Dance in the rain.
#pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #danceintherain