Thursday, April 24, 2014

Caring, teaching, dealing

Patience is hard. It's really very hard to practice patience, especially in this world of instant gratification that we live in. I seem to be extremely bad at patience, especially when I don't have all the answers. There are many times in life where I want to be able to Google the answer right then and there and make everything better. Unfortunately, God is not Google. He tells us to be patient and wait on Him.

Quite honestly, I think that's easier said than done. We have microwaves that give us food in far less time than is healthy, we have internet that moves at speeds that get faster and faster every year, we have Google, we have smart phones that are designed to save us time, and every year it seems like some labor-saving, time-saving device is invented that is supposed to make our lives easier and more satisfactory. In a world where we can download songs, pictures, and movies that haven't even been released to the public within minutes, and even seconds, it is extremely hard to be patient.

It also breeds entitlement. If the TV, or my smart phone is going to give me exactly what I want, then why shouldn't my parents, my teachers, my pastor, or even my job? As a teacher I've seen this more and more in the students that I teach. As a wife, I've seen this more and more in myself, expecting Michael to do everything for me, or at least to do what I ask right away. As a child of God, I understand that I've always been impatient and wanted to know the answers to the biggest questions that I don't and probably will never have answers to... (why take my child?)

At every turn I have to fight entitlement and impatience in myself, and then in the people around me, mainly my students. As a teacher I am always telling them "no" or "not now" or asking them to forego things like having music in their ears at all times, having their phone out so they can be on social media or texting friends, or even simply doing what they want when they want to because they can.

There are roughly 1800+ students that go to the high school I teach at, and as a teacher, because I show up every morning, because I plan my lessons, because I cover other teacher's classes, and because I do ISS for 45 minutes every day, I am an integral part of my schools environment. Because of this, every time I get up at 5:30 in the morning (or earlier) and get ready for work, I am telling the students at my school that I care about every single one of them, if even in some very small aspect. As a teacher investing in the lives of my students, I have to care or no progress is made. It's very easy to go to another job and work without caring about it (I know because I've had other jobs!), but with teaching, it's a heavy emotional responsibility. Especially when I look at some of the kids in my school who have this "entitlement complex" and expect everything to be handed to them on a platter and I wonder if they're even going to make it outside of high school. Is the 17 year old freshman who never goes to class, but sleeps instead, going to make it even to flipping burgers at a local hamburger joint? And yet, because I'm in the building doing my job, I'm investing part of my life into that 17 year old freshman, without knowing how he's going to turn out or even succeed.

And let's not talk about the students who have violent histories, who will explode on you simply because you asked them to put their phone away, or the student whose abusive boyfriend is taking over her life, or the student whose rich parents aren't actually parenting but simply throwing money at their "problem" and hoping it goes away, or the student whose parents are so poor that they have to work 3 jobs to pay for the iPhone and the designer sneakers and have no time to spend making sure their child isn't in trouble or are getting decent grades.

So, I teach because I care, or I care because I teach. I can't decided. I know this post started out as a comment on patience, instant gratification, and entitlement, and has now turned into an explanation about what I as a teacher have to deal with day in and day out, but honestly, it all amounts to the same thing. If you as a person are investing in the lives about people around you, don't you want their lives to be as meaningful and successful as possible? Every time you invest you have to care about something, even if you don't consciously realize that you care. That's why as a teacher you can't leave your work at work. Even if you leave all those papers you need to grade at work, the students you affect come home with you. Even while on spring break I was thinking about my students and the things that I wanted to share with them when I got home.

Needless to say, society is going somewhere, and I'm not sure that I like going with it in a certain direction. Entitlement, instant gratification, and dealing with people has always been a problem. Ecclesiastes is very clear that there is nothing new under the sun. At least I know that that has never changed. This is just my first time fully realizing and dealing with it.


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