I’ve been thinking about when exactly I find myself feeling angry while teaching– not frustrated or exhausted (those happen all the time), but really truly mad. Last night I came to the realization that the times I feel angriest are when someone is mean to someone else. When my kids just aren’t nice to each other.
It’s angering for so many reasons: because I work so hard to teach my kids how to be kind to each other and to build a community that naturally motivates them to do so, because it disrupts anything else that I may have intended to be happening the moment, because one mean moment can so easily lead to others, because I know that most often their intentions are not to hurt, because it steals from the emotional safety of the room. But I think that at the root of it, what makes me so mad in those situations is my own powerlessness. I can rant and reprimand and redirect and lecture to my heart’s [dis]content, but at the end of the day, someone in our class feels hurt by another someone in our class, and I can’t actually do away with that. The kids are far more powerful in these instances than I ever could be. Only they can fix those wounds, and most of them are still developing the tools to do that fixing.
Because I care so deeply about the emotional wellbeing of our class as a whole and of the individual spirits within it, I think that I’m going to try and continue to make the biggest deal possible in support for kindness and against meanness. I am going to try and pick these battles above all others. This means not getting too riled up about other things–like chattiness, which yes, can drive me insane–so that when I do get riled up, my students can really see who and what I care about.