Friday, February 10, 2017

Working Through the Frustrations

I love my job.

I get to teach middle school students.

My official job is to teach a program called AVID and Social Studies.  It's so much fun!

But a lot of my job is teaching kids that it's okay to make mistakes.  That working hard towards towards goals is important.  That not making those goals is okay because sometimes we have things to figure out before we can make it work the right way.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination.  It helps teach organization, critical thinking, how to work with others, how to problem solve and a whole host of other skills that will helps students be successful in college or any other path they pick after high school.

Today I was working with my 6th grade AVID class on a worksheet that they have ready for class every Tuesday and Thursday, the Tutorial Request Form (TRF) and the tutorial process that goes with it.

There was some frustrations as I was asking students to do things differently and making sure they went through the process the right way, even though it meant some starting over and trying again.

One of my students looked at me and said, "You don't know what it's like to be frustrated.  I don't think I can do this!"

Sigh.

Guess what kiddo!  I totally understand!

I shared with my students about my track workout the night before.

We had a interval workout at the high school track near my house with my coach, my hubby and another friend.  I was supposed to do my warm up and then do four sets of intervals.  I had to do a 400 in 2:24 and then do 800 at a slower pace and repeat three more times.

I didn't do the first 400 as fast I was supposed to, not far off but not great.  The next two got even worse.  I was SO frustrated!  I knew what I wanted to do.  I was working as hard as I could to make it happen and I just couldn't get there.  I would start out okay but then the breathing would just be more and more of a struggle.  It also didn't help that I was getting in my own head, which means I was getting in my own way.

My coach was walking with me on my 800 before my last fast 400 and he knew I was not a happy camper.  We talked about what might be causing me to not to be able to make things work.  Jon was absolutely positive that I could do it. At this point I was absolutely positive I could not.

There were some tears from me as we talked and walked around the track.  Not uncommon for me since tears come easily when I'm frustrated.  Jon was great about talking me through it.  (Insert a snort from a 6th grade boy.  "You actually cried because you were frustrated?" Ha!  I told him me crying was not an unusual thing for me, happy, sad or mad. lol)

Jon decided that he was going to do my last fast 400 with me.  I was not allowed to look at my watch. I was just supposed to keep up with him and work on getting really deep breaths in.

Off we go.  It was hard.  Not going to lie.  Being frustrated didn't help because then I'm all tightened up which also doesn't help.  But it was better than the ones before.  Jon had me pick up the pace on the last straight stretch and evidently that's when my form and everything looked the best.

So he made me do a couple more 100 yard fast runs just to copy that good running form that I had somehow managed at the end of the last fast 400.  The requirement was to keep my form, work on my breathing and smile.  😃  They went better than I thought they would.

So while I was still frustrated a bit about not being able to do as well as I thought I should be able to, I wasn't feeling as completely deflated as I had earlier in the run.

Later in the evening I get a text from Jon.  Then I can see he is typing another one so I wait.  And then he is typing another one so I keep waiting.  Each text I get has me smiling and (bet you can't guess) crying at the same time.
Thanks Coach!
When I am pushing my students to do more than they think they can I know it is hard for them sometimes.  Life can be overwhelming for a middle schooler on a good day.  Many of them have a lot of stuff outside of school that creates an attitude of defeat and hopelessness.  My job is to 100% believe in them until they figure out they can believe in themselves.  Along the way I push and prod, encourage and support.  I tell them all the time that I am their biggest cheerleader and butt kicker all wrapped up in one teacher.  I don't care if they fail, I care if they don't try every single day to get better.

Funny that sounds an awful lot like what Jon does with his coaching.  😉  Probably why we work so well together.

I told my students about my track workout because I wanted them to know adults get frustrated and discouraged too.  Learning to do new things is hard, whether it is new things for the brain or new things for the body, it all takes work.  I am not asking them to do anything more than I what I am expecting from myself.  If I can do it, so can they!

I'm not going to give up just because I got frustrated so they don't get to give up when they get frustrated either.

The student who had said I didn't understand looked at me after I shared and grinned and said, "Guess you do get it."

Yep, I do.

One of the biggest side benefits of my healthy lifestyle is how it relates to so many things I'm trying to model for my students.  If I am going to ask them to keep pushing, to keep trying when it's hard, to set big scary goals and then go for it, to pick themselves up when everything falls apart and try again, then I better be showing them that I am willing to do the same thing!!!
This is going up in my classroom!!



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