Sunday, September 14, 2014

Teaching

I know it's hard to believe from this blog that I do something other than adventure on an island, but the truth is- there's a lot more.

We call it the Island Misconception-spear fishing by day star gazing by night, living on the beach, fresh mangoes and coconuts, carefree living, no responsibility-a paradise. While I definitely do get a chance to do this it certainly is not the norm (check back for pictures later this week). I see the ocean and beach everyday-from the car window while commuting an hour each day to and from school. I cut open a fresh coconut - as a break from grading to help out the cafeteria cook. I walk carefree in my boardies - from my bedroom to the kitchen, because once I leave my apartment, it's all collared shirts and slacks 6 days a week. And as for the responsibility- I'm a single dad keeping up with 17 kids and their own little quirks that make each day interesting.

It all makes sense now- why SM's continually have "visa problems" and have to go back early-it's tough. I've stayed up till 1 am grading and gotten back up at 6 the next morning a few times already and we're only a month in. Although parents, church members, and other staff know we haven't completed our education yet, we're expected to be full fledged teaching professionals and expected to know exactly what to do. I've never been more grateful for my ability to manage stress or rather not to get stressed and to take things in stride.

When education comes full circle everything makes more sense. Every story has two sides and now I'm getting the full picture. I now understand why every math teacher I've ever had has their students grade their own homework, why headings with the assignment and date are so important, why sleeping earns something interesting, why seating charts aren't actually meant to ruin your childhood, why points are given just for participation, why half points are given for attempting to write anything for an answer, and the power of positive reinforcement even when it's founded on close to nothing.
I find myself pushing my A students farther and further; grading them more harshly, encouraging them to try their hardest and reach their full potential-just as my teachers did to me. I'm slowly forgiving my teachers that gave me a B on a paper that was better than my friend's A. I'm forgiving my teachers who told me or wrote "give me more" "I expect better from you" "stop doing the minimum for an A" I always was so frustrated with my teachers when they were disappointed with me when I skated in at 93% quarter after quarter doing the absolute minimum. They wanted me to reach my full potential and I feel so hypocritical doing it to these kids haha! I can hear myself thinking "you'll thank me in 10 years" but I quickly cut that off real quick. If parenting gives me half the revelations that teaching does-it's going to get crazy.

There is little that can prepare your for teaching except well maybe... education in education.... But this business major was only prepped for making spreadsheets and graphs of test outcomes, real life applications for math, public speaking, and selling my kids on doing their homework -which are super handy and unusual in this line of work!
There is little that can prepare you to help a girl transitioning into womanhood who's parents failed to mention how things happen.  (Parents PLEASE tell your prepubescent kids what is happening. Don't leave it to whoever happens to be there.) Next time you think you had an awkward conversation, think of me and count your blessings.

There is little to prepare you to deal with parents who mother bear their cubs like you're there to hunt. And not often are you prepared to use a noun as a verb!


I had a very cool "it's not about you moment" last Tuesday. You see I consider myself pretty strong and independent, sometimes to a fault, but everyone needs a little love and physical touch is a real need.
 The taboo pressure put on opposite sex interactions leads us to often avoid or even ignore each other in public and when you see everyone everyday there is little reason to hug. I've spent the majority of the past few years at either Walla Walla or Big Lake. Both will find you a hug daily even if you're not looking for one. I definitely took it for granted and never realized the power of something so, basic. For the first time in my life I woke up last Tuesday thinking about how nice it would be to get a hug since I hadn't had one since I left, but it never crossed my mind to give one, but that third week of school threw a few curve balls my way.

It is not uncommon for a student to fail a grade and repeat, maybe even a couple times, but even though it happens, it is still cause for a bit of shame, grief, and teasing from other students. Right after school ended on Tuesday, a parent who I had not yet met walked in the door, so I greeted her with usual teacher preliminaries and shut the door. She instantly began tearing up and quickly started racing to get off all that she needed to say before the tears beat her to it. Her Filipino accent caught me off guard and I tried to keep up with what she was saying. It turns out that her daughter was not supposed to be in my class after she had failed the year before. She wasn't an A student, but she worked hard and was doing just fine. It didn't matter, she was being pulled from my class and rather than drop her to the grade below and take the criticism, the smirks, and slight bullying, they were moving back to the Phillipines to give their child a fresh start and keep their honor intact. She began to ball and I opened my arms to let her cry on my shoulder. It was deep, heartfelt, unique, and it wasn't about me. I'm here to be here for these people and I need to keep that in focus. That hug meant so much to both of us and it's going to sustain me until I see that nasty PDX carpet and my family once more :)

6 comments:

  1. Mom was bugging me all day yesterday to read this - and now I know why! Wow. Those are some pretty deep and introspective thoughts, Ty! It seems like it's hard work (an understatement, I realize), but I'm sure you're absolutely great over there and the kids love you despite your tough love in the classroom :) I can't even imagine dealing with half the stuff you deal with daily (and to think those parents never told their girl...yikes).
    It's really extraordinary to hear you write down all of your thoughts and events of the day/week/whatever. Waiting for the next post! :)

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  2. You are an amazing guy! I love this post and an so glad you are having this type of experience. I am so proud of you.
    Please come back and read this post when you want to give up and quit- I promise it will happen.
    I love that you are experiencing what an awesome privilege it is to be a teacher. Don't forget what an amazing force you can be in these families lives.
    Love it all!

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  3. I love it Tyler! I definitely get you with the teaching thing. A lot makes sense after teaching. Hahah sending hugs your way, and oh boy.. The awkwardness of that one conversation.. Good for you! Luke and I were talking about how much we will miss you durin thanksgivin this year!

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  4. dude knock it off you're sounding way too mature it's freaking me out!

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  5. I need to 'hug out' these weepy eyes!

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