A lesson learned from a 15-year-old girl
15.07.2009 - 15.07.2009 80 °F
As a teacher it's in my genetic makeup to question myself, my teaching abilities...and to be overly critical. I often wonder how I can be better, do things more effectively, convey more passion for a subject, or impact more students in a given day or lesson.
Over the last few days of teaching, I have paid close attention to Fatima, a 15 year-old-girl who acts uninterested, speaks in Arabic to her friends, and rolls her eyes. Upon looking at her, I kept thinking...she thinks I'm so lame. I must be boring her so much. Or...I bet she just made a joke about me in Arabic to her friend. Maybe I have pen on my face....maybe that is what she is saying...oh, God, am I really standing up here teaching with green pen all over my face??? I know, I know....a bit egocentric, right? I agree, but it's where my mind goes at times.
Well, it turns out, I shouldn't be so quick to judge - not my abilities....and certaintly not another person. I'm realizing that most of these judgments just aren't true. And upon judging someone else, I'm not seeing them for who they truly are. These snap judgments can negatively effect these students and also cause me to worry about things that aren't even there.
Today I was teaching a lesson that involved a lot of speaking on the part of the students. They were walking around and asking each other questions and then recording the answers. Fatima wasn't talking with people and kind of stayed on the sidelines. l happened to be talking with another student when all of sudden I am hit on the chest! It's Fatima. She has a small cylophane heart-shaped balloon with the words "I Love You". She took the balloon and again she tapped it against my heart and held it out for me to read. She said, "Thank you, teacher" and then hugged me tight and kissed me on the right cheek, then my left, and finally my right cheek again.
She showed me her paper and I saw that she didn't have any answers filled in. She said, "I'm sorry." I helped her to write one answer down, and then I said, "Little bit each day" and I gave her a hug and a big accepting smile.
Today...instead of walking out quickly, she light heartedly lingered around with a smile on her face.
I guess all she needed was a teacher to see her for who she is: a young girl with a huge heart...who happens to be a bit self-conscious in her abilities...and nothing more. I think about how I have reacted over the last few weeks during our French or Arabic language lessons and I realize that she and I are no different. We are just two people doing the best we can to learn and grow...and to hopefully not be judged by those around us.