Why I Am Taking My Own Advice

You can probably just ignore this whole post. Mostly, I need to process and I am completely incapable of processing without some type of audience (and Lucy doesn’t really count).

I teach teenagers. In case you didn’t know, teenagers frequently have EMOTIONS. As adults, we know this, but I think we can often forget just how it feels to be a teenager. We have emotions, but we have repressed what it is like to have EMOTIONS (probably so that we can actually function day-to-day without exploding). I try to remember this because when I do, it makes it much easier to deal with my students and their EMOTIONS.

I feel like I’m pretty good at helping my students deal with this, probably because I still frequently deal with EMOTIONS rather than just emotions. Here’s the rather useful three-step method I have developed to help students who are crying because they got an 88 on a math test or who honestly feel like a bad grade on one essay is going to destroy all of their future goals:

Step 1: Identify what you are feeling. The feeling exists for a reason; pretending it doesn’t exist will not make things better.
Step 2: Identify what you know to be true about the situation. Remind yourself of the rational statements that you know are true, even though they may not feel true at the moment.
Step 3: Create an action plan to help stabilize the EMOTIONS so you can then make decisions based on reason.

Well, today I need to take my own advice. I have one class that is particularly challenging this year (really, this is an every year thing…there’s always one) and while things have been going pretty well, today’s lesson just bombed. Hard. My students were so unresponsive it was like I was teaching zombies. And for some reason, this particular lesson on this particular day triggered my EMOTIONS. I have already put some of my action plan into actual action, but I still felt the need to put this down on paper (or rather, the interweb version of paper). So here goes:

What I am feeling: frustrated, annoyed, ineffective, too busy to deal with this right now
What I know to be true: teenagers have bad days; teenagers are not always going to love everything we read; it is still valuable for teenagers to read those things; I am a good teacher; striving to be a better teacher is a worthwhile endeavor; taking the time to deal with my emotions is a priority
Plan of action: vent to someone who will listen, but also help me problem solve (done); leave school (done); eat a delicious dinner, taking my time and savoring it; read something completely unrelated to school; when emotions feel stable, choose ONE idea from earlier problem solving to implement tomorrow and prepare to implement it

I am also adding one thing I need to not do: beat myself up if my lesson plans do not get perfectly completed. I have a topic and objective for each day next week and at this point, getting my EMOTIONS in check is a higher priority than being a perfect employee. Being a functional, reflective human being does more in the long run to make me a better teacher than getting my lesson plans in on time.

So there we go. Already my EMOTIONS are feeling more like just Emotions. Hopefully once I eat and read for a bit, they will be back to just emotions and I can get done what I need to get done.

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  • A collection of ramblings and musings on Jesus, life, education, family, and anything else that pops into my head.

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