Saturday, August 24, 2013

Things I've Learned From High Schoolers

It feels like it has been ages since I have written (minus the phone meeting post). It's been almost a week. And holy cow, what a week it has been! I don't even really know what to say about it. There is so much I could say.

I survived the first week of school! Apparently the principals have been hearing good things about me from my students (and hearing good things while they sneakily listen outside my door, as I've found out). The nervousness has completely worn off, and I just feel pumped and ready to go! Actually, that was a lie. There are still things that make me nervous, but not nervous enough to really get into the details right now.

I've learned some valuable things about myself this week.

First, I have a great capacity to love. I mean, it's not like that is really new news. I already know that I have a big heart. But my heart is even bigger than I realized. I think I've done a good job at reaching out to my students and showing them my care for them is real. Every day on my way to school, I think about them. I think about the things they have told me about their lives and families. Some of their stories are heartbreaking. Most of my students come from divorced families. One of my students was held hostage by her dad when she was about 8. Some of my students have never met some of their siblings. Some of my students haven't seen one of their parents in years. I have many students who are or have been in the foster care system.

On the first day, I gave them a questionnaire about themselves, and one of the questions I asked was, "What are your expectations from me as your teacher?" I was surprised at how many of them said things like not to pick favorites, be fair to all the students in my class, and be aware of what is happening in the classroom. Apparently the world needs better teachers? I'm going to be a great teacher.

I also learned that I have the power to choose to be happy. That is something I have struggled with. Sometimes I get down, so down, and I don't know how to get up. I have written about how I sometimes feel controlled by Satan and yes, I do think that sometimes he controls me and maybe I can't choose to be happy in those moments. But, I know I have the Atonement, and I know that through the power of the Atonement I can choose to be happy.

This week was EXHAUSTING. Emotionally and physically. After the weekend with the couch incident, I thought it would be really hard to be at school. I knew I wouldn't get much time to spend with Jack. I knew there would be many challenges, emotionally and physically. Jack gave me a blessing on Sunday night, though, and it helped put things in perspective for me as I started the school year. When my feet hurt like crazy, I chose to be happy. When I was so tired I could barely think, I chose to be happy. When I got in arguments with my mom or husband, I chose to move on and be happy. When the morning started out rough, I chose to be happy. I was happy every day at school. Every single period, even the ones with my challenging students. I have felt an incredible amount of joy, and I feel amazing.

Even when I have gotten down, I've done the things I've known to do to lift myself up. When I've gotten down, I haven't let staying down be an option. I've listened to Conference talks, religious music, my favorite instrumentals, and my recovery playlist while driving. I've prayed when I can. I've read quotes on my LDS Wisdom app (which is really great for a quick pick-me-up).

I'm happy :)

 (so happy, that I may or may not have just had a dance party by myself to this song. actually, it might have been with my dog)

The last big thing I've learned is how to use the power of the Atonement. I definitely still don't feel like I am a pro at that. I still have growing to do. I still have work to do. I have many questions to be answered, and I know there will be times in the future when I will feel like I have absolutely no clue and will have to start learning the Atonement over. But I've used the Atonement in so many ways. The Savior has helped me with my physical pain. He has helped me with my emotional pain. When Jack has had relapses (because, of course, that is still happening in the background of my other life at school), I've felt overpowering peace. He has helped me choose to be happy. He has been by my side. He has helped me see the divine nature of each of my students. He has helped me feel love. He has helped me want to serve Him. He has helped me learn, even when I only have five to ten minutes to study my scriptures.

He is amazing.

Oh yeah, I've actually learned another thing. There is still good in the world. Even though we are fighting some serious battles with Satan, there is still good. I sometimes forget that. But I was more than reminded of that when I read two classes' responses to the question, "If you could make any difference in the world, what would you do and why?" They had some amazing, moving responses.

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