ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 99, Thursday, February 14, 2008
Today, for reasons I won’t go into, I felt very disappointed with myself as a teacher. It was like the rug had been pulled out from under all my positive thoughts about my teaching. For a few hours today I felt like a failure, like I didn’t really know much about teaching and was doing a dreadful job of it. I moped around my room after school in bewilderment and grief. Slowly, though, as I quieted myself and reflected on what had happened, I began to see that this disappointment, as great as it was, could also be a great teacher. That’s a lesson I’ve been learning more and more over the years – that painful times can also be instructive times. In fact, many of my most enlightening learning experiences have arisen out of the fires of sorrow and disillusionment. Fire can burn, but it can also purify and polish. As I thought about my disappointment today, I began to understand that it could teach me valuable lessons. It could teach me humility, by showing me that I do have an immense amount to learn about good teaching. It could teach me compassion, by helping me empathize with the millions of teachers who also felt disappointed today. Most importantly, it could teach me courage, by showing me that the only way to deal with disappointment, or any pain, is to look it straight in the eye, accept it, and learn from it. As I drove home from school, I continued to feel disappointed with myself, but the disappointment was no longer an enemy. It was like it was beside me in the car, huge and real and very wise, teaching me all the way to my apartment.