December 12, 2009

"Reach for it, work for it, and fight for it."

Hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead, or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, work for it, and fight for it.
Barack Obama

I had a long conversation with the school social worker Friday afternoon, mostly strategizing about handling the student that has consumed so many blog posts.  She also reminded me to be consistently checking my emotions, and focusing on what I need to do at that moment to keep myself from getting too frustrated, too emotional, or just too burned out. 

During the course of this conversation, she told me about her first post-grad job.  She was working in a residential home for disturbed youth (teenagers I believe) and she said that after her first day on the job, she went home to the apartment she had JUST moved into and called her parents, begging them to come pick her up and take her back home.  There were too many things wrong and, as she said, "Of course I insisted that none of them were my fault."  She said her mom calmly told her, "This is what you're going to do.  You're going to get down on your knees and pray.  Then tomorrow, you are going to go to work.  And the next day you're going to go to work.  And you're going to keep going to work." 

After awhile, she realized that it wasn't just them, it was her too.  She had a lot more to learn, and described that job as one of the best learning experiences of her life.  Not only did it give her the tools to deal with countless future occupational challenges, but it gave her the emotional experience and strength to persevere through all the challenges her career would offer. 

So for the next week, I'm going to follow this advice.  I'm going to go into work every day and get down on my knees every night to pray for the strength to keep going.  I am going to remember that I am as much accountable for my actions and emotions as I expect this student to be.  I am going to give myself a fresh start each day, just as I will give him.  And after winter break, I will come back to school and do the same thing every single day.  Because when you something is worth it, you don't give up.

 A few weeks ago, I wrote in a blog post of absolute frustration and despair, "Something, anything has to change here."  Tonight I'm realizing that that something has to be my attitude.  I may not be able to change this child, but if I don't change the way I feel about this situation, I WILL never make it through this year.  Instead, I can accept that, yes, he is going to be disruptive.  But I can ignore disruptions.  Yes, he is going to be disrespectful.  But I can accept and ignore the disrespect and offer back only firmness and positivity.  Yes, he is going to test boundaries.  But I am capable of passing those tests.  Eventually, we will grow and move on. (I emphasize the we here).  For this week, though, this will be enough.

Finally, I am going to remember, "despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, work for it, and fight for it."

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