Monday, May 9, 2011

Resilience, process, curiosity and relationships

One backdrop, two stories, one conclusion.

Backdrop: These four words describe our most important values across our school.  They are the threads that connect the islands of our classrooms, the values that we aspire to teach.  I like them.  I think they are basically the most essential ingredients for a happy life as well, and the fact that we came up with them to align our curricula is compelling.

Story 1: I saw one of my favorite seniors, VC, this morning at the deli.  She looked exhausted and discouraged.  I carelessly told her she was doing great, that it would all be over soon.
And it's true.  She is, and it will.

But as I walked out of the deli, I remembered that it won't stop.  High school will end, sure.  She'll do fine, graduate and all that.  I'm not worried about her.  But the stress and exhaustion and dissatisfaction that she is experiencing, those aren't over when high school ends - at least they weren't for me.  College will begin for her, with all it's responsibility and the challenge of that independence.  Fun, liberating, exciting, stressful, exhausting, the whole gamut.  Graduation, job hunting, career finding and having, family...there's a progression to move through if she wants to, that will just keep going and providing her with opportunities to feel stressed and exhausted or not.

I want her to enjoy this part too.  To enjoy the intensity and excitement and grief and fear and know that she's exhausted because life is so grand, so big and full.  Or if it's too painful to enjoy, at least to feel it fully and know that she is really living.  That her life is already what she makes it, and that she shouldn't wait 7 weeks until graduation to live it fully, or even 5 days.

Story 2: This morning I forgot to check our student teacher GL's worksheets for mathematical hotspots.  We talked a ton about instructions and formatting but I failed to see that her quadratics had integer vertices, and they didn't, and so the kids didn't know how to do it.  It was fine, I told them it was my fault and we'll fix it for tomorrow.  Then I taught GL how to come up with nice systems of quadratics and I'm sure we'll do fine tomorrow.

But GL didn't look so pleased.  She's really hard on herself and felt unsuccessful because of that mistake. No big deal, I know that feeling.  But watching her do that, watching her align her success as a teacher with each individual success in the classroom...it was so obviously not true, beside the point, and most importantly, a total distraction from the actual work of improving our teaching.  There is a reflectiveness that's necessary to grow and learn, but the self-judgment that comes afterwards...that's unnecessary.


Conclusion: Those four words from the top come in: resilience, process, curiosity, relationships.  I want to speak about these words with both of these young women.  To plunge into their deep resilience, not just surviving while they anticipate some future that will be easier but deeply resting in knowledge of their own self-worth, connected to this day, this difficulty as a part of their process in growing and learning, curiosity about how that will unfold and fierce optimism about how awesome it will be.  Because they deserve it, and it will be...may my relationships with both of them support their ever more and more loving relationships to themselves.  May they find ease and enthusiasm in their work and lives now and always, pulsing in and out of their seeming successes and failures with curiosity and acceptance.

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful and profound--these two young women are fortunate to have someone so thoughtful, perceptive, and supportive as you in their lives.

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