One of my second grade students said,
“I want to change my behavior this year, I know I have to. You told me how you had used to make bad choices, and I think I can change.”
This one statement nearly brought tears to my eyes. I had to write her on a discipline referral three times in the first two weeks. She struggles with a strong will, intelligent mind, and a strong sense of justice. I get it. I was that kid.
I love working with children with severe behavior issues. I am inspired seeing the change in their behavior and attitude that happens within a year of them being in my classroom. Some days it is very tough. They throw things, scream, refuse to leave the room, curse, get physical with other kids, and the list goes on and on.
The assistant principal at my last school used to say, “You have the patience of Job.” I was not sure I really did, but I did have the promise of unconditional love from God. I know that whatever I do or is done to me that God loves me. I try to give that kind of love back to the kids in my classroom. I am tough at times, but I let them know I forgive them. I work them very hard, but we also play hard at recess. I work very hard to keep a balance on work and reward. I am open and transparent with them about my struggles growing up. I often refer to growing up with divorced parents, understanding how that feels day to day. I have a myriad set of experiences that I teach them as we work through writing assignments, I tell them the stories that have shaped my life.
Malcolm Gladwell, in The Tipping Point talks about how to be an expert at something we must have done it 10,000 hours. I have taught 13 years, so I am just clearing that mark (10,530 hours to be exact), and I can sense that something has changed in the way I reach and teach the students and families that I serve. I have tried other professions, and found that despite all the trappings of being a teacher, it is the life for me.
Today I say goodbye to my students for our three week track out. I am ready for the break, I have worked hard and they have worked even harder. I pray that each of them can have a new experience over the break, I pray for each of them to find the kind of love that will change them every day of their life.