It's not so much that I'm having to do anything new. It's just different. Kids from backgrounds who require a slightly different flavor of teaching, different rhythm, different expectations.
This first half-year I've been frustrated a number of times as I run into situations that show places where my relationship with the kids is not what it should be. Either they are not prepared to meet my expectations or I have set the wrong kind of expectations for them. The key word is frustrated.
My reactions have varied from patience to anger to humor. I'm looking for the response that generates the relationship where we can work together. Often I get angry, not just because of the kids, but because I get the idea that I shouldn't have to be frustrated. I want the job to flow, and I hate that it doesn't.
My reaction is a normal one. In fact, the kids are also frustrated, because they want it to flow, too. And so I have realized that, far from my impatience being a problem, it's actually an opportunity.
The kids see me frustrated. They also see me dealing with my frustration. In some cases, they see me deal with it continually as I hit block after block with certain students or situations.
They are learning how to deal with their own frustrations. By watching me deal with my frustration, they have an opportunity to learn how I handle it. If I handle it well, with patience and perseverance, they may learn to handle it well also.
So in this way, my frustration becomes another teaching tool that I can use. It may be more effective and more valuable than I realize, because many of these kids are very frustrated, continually, and may have few models for how to deal with it. I should not attempt to bargain or coerce my way out of my frustration, because if I do, that's what they'll learn, and that's what they'll give back to me.
This makes being frustrated a desirable trait...almost! How do you handle your frustration?