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Posted on 2017.04.28 at 23:20
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I was talking to another teacher today and she was commenting on how a class she is taking is very racially divided and that it makes her sad to see that. I agreed and we started talking about what teachers bring to the classroom and the biases we have that we don't even realize...

I didn't grow up the way most of the people I work with did; I grew up the way most of my students are growing up. With an absent or unreliable parent. Struggling to make ends meet and having to make difficult choices. Feeling like you were walking on eggshells so a parent didn't explode physically or verbally. Hiding your fear and pain so you could function. Being the adult rather than the child.

As an adult, you have an whole different set of struggles. People who didn't grow up the same way don't understand. To them, you should have it all together because you aren't responding to the things they find difficult, but they think you must have something wrong with you when you are sensitive to other things like tone of voice, word choice, etc. Really, we are just coming from two different sides and while I'm not perfect I try not to judge the other side. However, I'm tired of being judged.

In fact, if I had to choose between my struggles I'd pick the harder childhood. People waste so much time and energy worrying about things that aren't important and don't really even impact them that much. When I get really anxious is when my career or someone I care about is threatened. In fact, I've been told I deserved to be happy and the person proceeded to attach that to money. I don't give a flying fuck about money so long as I can support myself. What matters to me is relationships, memories, voices, laughter, sensations...things money cannot purchase. The material possessions that matter to me are limited to books, an electronic form of a communication, and my violin. The rest is merely a means to an end.

Sometimes I do feel lonely, but not because I dislike people...I just have so little in common with them. I hear them complain about having to borrow money from their parents AGAIN or what someone else said about someone else. Spare me. If that is the extent of your conversational material I prefer my own mind. It's not personal; I just don't have anything to discuss. Sometimes I will prod people to see what they tend to discuss or wish to talk about, but once I find it superficial I'll back down. I try not to do it because it feels manipulative, but really I just want to know more about you without directly asking you--since so few people are actually honest when asked.

The rapport I've built with my students are based on who I am. And I've decided that gentle is a better way to go than elitism or threatening consequences. My philosophy is we simply need to believe and help them believe in themselves. Simple, yet so very difficult to achieve. However...

Today I worked with a student after school and he expressed nervousness over singing a solo. I asked him if I had ever asked him to do something he wasn't ready to do and he said no. And I said, "So believe in yourself. I do. You will do well, just believe and relax." When he left shortly after, he thanked me for staying after as always but then he stopped and said, "Thank you. For all this" gesturing to the room. (He's been my student since the 4th grade and is now a sophomore.) I replied, "no problem! That's why I'm here! Thank you for your hard work!" But really, on the heels of so much negativity thrown my way and feeling so defeated like nothing I did mattered I realized something...I'm giving the wrong person's opinion too much weight.

What I do and say matters. Even if not everyone understands why I am picky with words or get frustrated with the nonverbal messages sent by an action, it matters to the kids. They're why I'm there. They matter to me and because of them, I matter. And for that I will be forever grateful.

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