What is something you feel could change about this class?
What is something going well in this class?
It’s my first year of teaching, and it has not been easy. I feel underprepared, undervalued, and underpaid… basically all the “unders” except for worked. Because I am certainly on the “over” side in the work department. On the whole, things have been fine in the classroom. Students seemed to be learning. Things seemed to be getting done. But last month, I hit a bump in the road the size of Donald Trump’s hands (I’m struggling so much I can’t even think of a good hyperbole/simile… ahhh).
It started fairly innocuously. The memo: All BYU interns must give out surveys to their students wherein the students can rip you to shreds if they so wish. Perhaps that was not word for word what the announcement said, but when I collected that first round of surveys, I felt like there was eighty pounds of rock in the pit of my stomach. I am prone to focusing more heavily on negative feedback than positive, so as I looked through the surveys my eyes searched for the negative, the mean hearted, and the blatantly false (you never let us do anything we want and you ignore us…). I know. I know. I shouldn’t care. But what happens when you do care? I ravenously searched through each class after I collected the surveys, devouring every shred of negativity and letting it sink into my consciousness.
On the whole, there were approximately 10 truly negative surveys. I have 220 students. That means less than 5% of the students I work with truly dislike me. But it felt and feels like worse.
The night after ingesting the negativity, I had to go to a meeting at BYU for teaching. On the drive there I broke down crying. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t give so much of myself to people who hate me, hate what I am trying to do, and hate how I am doing it. There’s no way I can make it to summer break. As soon as I stepped out of the car I headed for, you guessed correctly, the bathroom. Where else can you cry semi-hysterically in peace? I sat on the toilet seat and stared at the tile beneath my feet. I care so much but I know so little. How can I do this? How can I keep going? I hated that I was crying. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to brush off what they said and to resolve to do better.
But in the moment when I was tearing a piece of toilet paper from the dispenser, I had a prolific thought: I have never cared about another job this much for as long as I’ve lived. I have never wanted to be so good at something that the idea that I was failing brought me to tears. I have never wanted to help people so badly. Even though I sat there, tears falling down my skin, I realized that even if this wasn’t the only job for me, it was the first job I had found where I didn’t leave calculating how much money I had made that day. I don’t feel annoyed when someone asks for special tutoring or
for extra help. For the first time in my life I’ve lost the that’s not in my job description and the I’m off the clock mentality.
As I sat there in the peace and in the quiet and as the automatic toilet I was sitting on flushed and splashed up onto my pants, I knew. This was the job I needed right now. Even if I was bad at it. Even if I was struggling. Even if I was failing. I don’t want to solely devote my life to doing what makes me happy. I want to devote my life to doing what makes me great. To what makes me work. To what makes me cry because I love it so much and I want everything to be perfect.