Of tears in teaching

There’s an anchor tied around my heart today and it’s dragging me to the bottom of the ocean. I’ve had bad days before but it’s extremely rare that I have a day so bad that I end up crying.

Today is one of those days. My day’s been so bad I just want to hide under a rock and wait until it’s over.

I feel so frustrated and disappointed and discouraged and insecure.

Because the thing is, now matter how many times people have told me how untrue this is and no matter how many times I tell myself this is the wrong way of looking at things, I always measure my worth and success as a teacher by the grades my students get.

And right now, my worth is plunging to the depths of the earth.

Two of the kids I’m tutoring received a failing mark in their exam. But they’re good kids, you know. They’re not like most kids these days who cringe when you put a book in front of them instead of an iPad. We could be studying the same thing for an hour or two and they wouldn’t be secretly mad at me for it. They tell me whenever they have homework and they voluntarily show me their test results regardless of what scores they have. They’re good kids, I’m telling you.

I have never in my entire academic life cried because of a failing grade (and I’ve had many) but right now I’m crying as if onions have been glued to my eyes. I feel frustrated because I’m running out of ideas to help them learn the lessons they’re having trouble with. I feel disappointed because a lot of their mistakes could have been avoided if they were more careful. I feel discouraged because two Fs in one day is as discouraging as it can get. And I feel insecure because if my students fail, that means I fail.

And the only thing worse than failing at something is failing someone. And that’s how I feel.

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4 thoughts on “Of tears in teaching

  1. rossmurray1 December 4, 2014 / 2:43 pm

    Sorry for this. Have you talked to a colleague for advice or support?

    • Kathryn G December 7, 2014 / 9:15 am

      I talked about this with two of my co-teachers. They both told me that in the end it really all comes down to the child’s willingness to learn and his ability to retain the things he’s been taught. With my two boys, the willingness is there. They just learn slower than most kids.

      • rossmurray1 December 7, 2014 / 8:30 pm

        If they are willing to learn and make genuine effort, than that speaks to good character. As long as the notion of institutional failure doesn’t drag them down, they should be set up to manage just fine in the world. They may never be scholars but they may be good people, and isn’t that more important. When they are surrounded by people like you who care about their well-being, I think you should feel great hope for them. Kids remember teachers.

      • Kathryn G December 9, 2014 / 8:39 am

        They are definitely good kids. That’s kind of why this hits me a lot harder. It’s hard to see them looking to me to help them understand their lessons, and it just doesn’t happen when it needs to. But with the way these kids never complain and never give up, we’re bound to get there. I’m hopeful, that incident just discouraged me a bit. Thanks so much for your words of advice.

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