Teaching Teenagers

Today was a good day. Yes, not all of it was easy, but I came through much better than in the past. It felt like such a victory to be able to deal with a hard situation and not come out crushed by it. In fact, I felt encouraged. I felt like celebrating the good day.

In the past people have made statements to me such as: “I wouldn’t want to teach the upper grades and have to deal with all the attitudes.” I always assured them that in my small class I had good students and didn’t have too much trouble with adolescent/teenage attitudes.

Enter year 2016-2017 with nine students and six grades. The first weeks went pretty smoothly. I felt the Lord had answered the prayers I had been praying all summer. Then someone flipped a switch. Now I’m dealing with teenagers who question everything I ask of them and push me to the limit. Some days I cry out to God, “God, I’m only 24. I don’t have the wisdom and experience to handle these teenagers!” I cry out for wisdom and guidance because I don’t know how to get through to them and help them understand WHY they need to do what they need to do.

Although today was a good day, it was a day that left my mind rolling and boiling. Did I handle the situation the correct way? Could I have said something that would have been more effective? Did I get through to the student? What is tomorrow going to be like? Did we get to the bottom of the problem or is it going to keep surfacing?

I don’t have the answers to all these questions.  But I was encouraged by the strength I felt from God to handle this situation. I was able to come out still on top, not buried under the problem. That in itself is huge!

I was also encouraged last week when my students voluntarily did something they had made a huge fuss about a few days before. It showed me that even though sometimes I may feel like I am getting nowhere, something is actually getting through to my students. It felt like I had won a battle. And when another student played recess without complaining today, I was so proud of him! It makes me so happy when my students choose to do the right thing!  

My prayer is that I would have wisdom and patience to be the teacher my students need to help them grow. Only by God’s strength can I carry on. Praising Him for his strength this week!

 

P.S. I now understand why my 7th and 8th grade teacher felt overwhelmed with 30 students! (We definitely weren’t good little angels!) I have my hands full with 9 students! (Things look a bit different when you are on the teaching end of it. Winking smile)

 

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THANKSGIVING—and my stressful life

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

I have been seeing this verse on my calendar every day, but not until the other night did it really sink in to me. It was exactly the verse I needed and it had been in front of me the whole time, I had even been reading it quite often.

I tend to let myself get very stressed out. And I don’t handle stress very well. And stressed out and teaching do not go very well together. The past several weeks I have really been fighting it. Some days I felt so overwhelmed, like I was drowning in this sea called Life; I would barely get through one wave and another would come crashing down on me. Some days I just wanted to run away and never look back, run far away to a quiet place where no one could find me; where life wouldn’t overwhelm me. Sometimes I just felt like having a pity party for myself…I knew this wasn’t the answer and I tried to pray, but at the same time I was hanging on to the ‘poor little me, I have life so rough.’ It didn’t work out so well. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. The tears came against my wishes…When I was younger I never cried; I despised having people see me cry. Now it seems I can’t stop the tears, they just pour down whether I want them to or not. But with them, some of the stress does seem to flow away.

It just seemed like every time I took care of one problem, there was another one staring me in the face. After an especially tough day, I remembered Isaiah 40:31—“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” I felt weary and like I was fainting by the way and this just spoke to me. I prayed, asking the Lord to support me with his wings. The next day this verse kept going through my mind and I kept praying. I thought, Maybe God let me get low so I would seek him out more deeply. In all my stress, I haven’t been taking the time for God that I should. I’ve been putting my focus in the wrong place. And, although I wasn’t feeling very well that day, it was definitely a better day. And the next day was even better.

The battle is far from over. I have won a victory, but the Enemy is still there; now more determined than ever to drag me down into that dark sea of despair and self-pity. My challenge to myself is to spend more time with God and keep my focus on him rather than the stresses of my life.

Through it all though, there were bright spots. One night when I was feeling especially overwhelmed, I got a phone call releasing me from one of my responsibilities for the evening. They probably had no clue how much it meant to me; but I felt it was an answer from God—a chance to get my head a little higher out of the water. Another was getting invited to a friend’s for supper one evening just for anyhow. It was so good to have her little boys come and sit on my lap and want me to hold them because they love me. How can you not respond to that? There were other things, too, although I don’t remember them now.

I debated about writing this, I didn’t want to come across in a way that makes people pity me. Also, it is hard on my pride—what little I still have. I’ve always been the “tough one.” The one that is there for everyone else in their troubles. It’s hard to let people see inside my exterior to the real me who really isn’t tough at all. But I’ve found I love reading people’s blogs who are honest about life and what they are experiencing. Those are the posts that speak to me. So, I hope through this post you can be drawn closer to God and encouraged in your walk, not focus on me. This Thanksgiving, don’t let anxiety get in the way of your thanks giving!

P.S. On a brighter note, my students have kept me laughing the last couple days, as they have suddenly become my matchmakers. They provide me with great entertainment! No time for despair when they keep me laughing. Smile