Saturday, November 1, 2014

Remembering Ontario...

In May of 2012, I doubted my future as a teacher. Asking for help to survive the last month teaching a horribly disrespectful group of students, I wrote an email to all of the other teachers at Ontario Middle School. In the email, I told them about how my Teacher Appreciation Week went and how it pretty much summed up my entire year teaching there. I had already talked to certain teachers in person, but I also wanted to get advice from as many other teachers as possible, since I was considering leaving the teaching profession because of how crappy that year of teaching was. Being verbally abused by my students was not something I wanted to continue. A teacher can only handle so much cussing from students, throwing objects, suspensions, selfish attitudes, and disrespect before I realize that I might be better suited for another job elsewhere.

This is a snippet of what I wrote in that email:
"We all received an email from [our assistant principal], in which he stated, 'I hope at some point this week you felt appreciated.' Well, that very day I was called 'racist' by one student, 'idiot' by another, 'you're fucking stupid' from another, 'gay' from another, hit by a pencil, almost hit by a calculator, and not to mention all the usual ways I get disrespected by adolescents. At one point in the week, I did feel appreciated: I received a goody bag with my name on it that had candies in it, in addition to a granola bar I got in my mailbox. I put both of them on my chair behind my desk ...and guess what... THEY WERE STOLEN BY MY STUDENTS!"

My co-workers provided me with very helpful feedback. Most of them told me exactly what I needed to hear, supported me when I was struggling, and encouraged me to continue teaching in the future.

I realized that I learned a TON that year. Looking back, I knew that time of my life was God opening my eyes and humbling me to all the crap that goes on in this world. I needed to see how such a shitty job was actually a realistic representation of the every day lives that some of those students I taught go through day after day. I know now that because I took teaching so personally and wanted to improve, God had been preparing me for something better in the future.

Giving up when the times are tough is not the attitude that Jesus portrays for us in His exemplary life. He showed us that when the going gets tough, that's when we are in the best position to cry out to God and ask Him to help us see the bigger picture.

When I look back on Ontario now, 2.5 years later, I now see more positives than I see negatives. Even though that job was one of the most painful experiences of my life, I think about Ontario now as a time of growth. We had a great time spending time with friends from church, serving others in the community, walking Nolan in the stroller around the town, spending time together as a family at home, and learning about how God prunes us when we don't expect to be pruned.