Tiny friction can cause a crash
In 1991, the year after I graduated from college, a terrible airplane crash happened in my beautiful home state of Georgia. This crash killed former US Senator John Tower of Texas and twenty two other people. In 1992, the Chicago Tribune reported on the cause:
“A stripped gear in the propeller controls of a commuter plane caused it to nosedive into the Georgia woods last April…the government concluded Tuesday.
A gear that adjusted the pitch of the left engine's propellers was slowly worn away by an opposing part with a harder titanium coating, the National Transportation Board said.
‘It acted like a file, and over time it wore down the teeth that controlled the propeller,' said acting board chairman Susan Coughlin.”
Who are the opposing parts in your life?
Who are the abrasive unkind people who wear you down slowly?
I am an adult and am pretty thick skinned. It is the casual remark by some students that gets me. I love those kids. I agonize over lesson plans. I work late hours to grade their papers. I give all I have and more.
Sometimes, when a student has made an unkind or insensitive remark, not understanding the shoes in which I walk I must remind myself of one thing:
they are kids.
These kids are in the throes of some of the most difficult times of their lives. Many of them do not have encouragement at home. Those who love them sometimes tear them down. Some of them only know criticism so to that is their modus opperandi! How could they do anything else?
Though I am unflappable in business, this student hurt me because I care so much. I let my guard down. I want to do well. I strive to be an excellent teacher! I want every kid to learn and love the process, unrealistic as that may be.
When this type of thing happens, I refocus and recenter myself on my calling. It's like the story of the postal clerk who helped the older man who couldn't see to write:
An old man came to a window with a letter. He asked the postal clerk to address it and he did. He also asked the clerk to flip over the post card and write the note on the other side. He did that as well and even signed the man's name for him.
Quite pleased with his good deed, the postal clerk slid the post card back across the counter to the old man. The old man squinted at it for a moment, quietly slid it back and said, “Ahum. Could you add a PS ‘Please excuse the messy handwriting.'”
So, I will recognize that childish immaturity combined with less than perfect circumstances and the fact that this student is a human being could cause them to say something that would hurt my feelings. Being ungrateful is an attitude of many who mistakenly think they are the center of the universe.
Do not let the abrasiveness of a student, coworker, or family member wear you down to a crash. Recognize the abrasiveness and the affect it is having on your life before you reach that point. Forgive them, acknowledge your hurt, and move on.
Just as I decided to invite myself to my own pity party, I read the following posts in my student blogs. The one on biologic and robotics made my day! It “lowered the bucket” and pulled me to the light of day.
- Biologics and Robotics become Intertwined – Elizabeth, 10th grade
- Ipods: Not just a kids toy – Sarah, 8th grade
- The Loremo Car: 157 miles per gallon at less than $13K – Lauryn, 11th grade
- The iPod Rival – Chad, 11th grade
- No Excuses – Tyler, 9th grade
- Rocketboys – Collin, 9th grade
Find something to excite you and to remind you that you are making a difference! Recharge your batteries and remember that you have a noble calling! Teaching is vital, important, and never appreciated! If you're waiting to be appreciated before you give your best, you'll never give your best!
Keep the faith!
Picture: From our family farm. This is where I go to regain strength as I drive through the woods, play on the tire swing, and catch catfish in the pond. I look at the blue sky and remember what is important.
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