Tuesday, November 30, 2010

intelligence, self image, and hard work

I took the day off work today to study for my stats final. Or rather, not just so much to study but to remain calm.  The day of my stats midterm PJ threw a beautiful, massive fit that began with him refusing to come in from the playground and ended with him, me, and two administrators in a dark room while PJ threw himself against our principal. By the time I left school I was shaky from PJ. I didn't do overly well on the midterm.

So, even though PJ has moved on, I wasn't taking any chances. With my luck today would be the day that another child would decide to have a massive fit. So instead I stayed home to study and work on the 5 other papers I have due in the next week.

The mission to stay calm has utterly failed. I am in a state of absolute panic and have pretty much convinced myself that I will fail stats causing myself to get kicked out of the program, throwing away my money and time, and embarrassing myself to everyone in my life. (notice however that I am writing this instead of studying. See how this calmness is playing out?)

I've never thought of myself as automatically smart. I'm quite use to not being the quickest person in the room, but with hard work I'm use to understanding what I'm doing. Sure college calc was a bit painful and computer programming turned out not to be my thing, but with elbow grease I made it through.

Now?  Maybe it's the full time job and part time doc program or maybe it's just stats, but I'm not picking up what's being put down. I'm struggling despite locking myself away for hours over Thanksgiving break to study despite the fact we'd flown down to Atlanta.

What I realized last night, in a frantic email I wrote to my best friend (again, not studying, just panicking) was that I'm putting a lot of self-judgement on myself for not being "smart enough" at stats.  And yet, I am a special ed teacher. I work with kids who work harder than everyone else in the room and still do not learn as successfully as those around them. I defend these kids to their classmates and to their teachers. I know these children are good people who will live wonderful lives, and in some cases will probably be happier and more successful than their peers who are easily learning to read.

But last night, in my long, rambling, stressed email to my friend about how I can't figure out what's going on in everyone else's head in class because everyone gets it faster than me, I realized that I haven't really internalized everything I believe about my kids. I'm judging my own worth around my intelligence based on my understanding of stats- something I would never, ever let one of my students do.

Then I think about the sad little boy I taught my first year in special ed- who wanted to learn to read so badly but despite all our hard work he still cannot read, although he is now in 4th grade.  If I feel this way about stats, how does he feel?

I'm leaving this post half way through because I actually do HAVE to go study. And maybe now I'll try to use this opportunity of struggling as an opportunity to relate to my students. There's a bright side in every situation, right?


Suzanne said...

Do you know what they call the person who graduates at the bottom of her PhD class? "Doctor!" Get C's and plow through. You know, I think you're doing too much for school and not enough for you. Make sure you get enough time for prayer and meditation, exercise, and get your hair or nails done. Look, there's a lot on your plate and unless you take 5 minutes here or there, you'll find hours upon hours wasted in fret and unfocused study. I know of what I speak. I'm a musician. It's better to practice smart than long. Your muscles can only do so much.

Please slow down. Work out the structure and content of your essays in your mind while doing laps in the pool. Concentrate on PJ's face and soul while saying a rosary or meditating. All these things will mean that you are more focussed and more present when you finally sit to write the paper or confront the latest tantrum.

magpie said...

You'll bolt in
Hoo Roo ☺☺☺