Teaching Trials

I am teaching a blogging workshop on Thursday night at New Work City in Chinatown. You should come, because it’s going to be awesome. And I need some support. I’m looking forward to teaching adults, because I’ve had some struggles with my middle schoolers.

I’m chagrined about my creative writing class in the after school this semester. I’ve had some challenges. And I just want the kids to write, damnit. I want them to sit quietly with pen and paper in hand and go for it. I give them great creative writing prompts, and I give them fun assignments. And we’ve gone on lovely field trips.

But still, they throw carrots at each other and scribble on each other’s worksheets. And in the last class, after a trip to Shake Shack, no less, one girl poured salt in another girl’s hair.

I don’t know if I’m not keeping my kids busy enough. Or if I am being too hard or too soft on them. I love them but I don’t understand them. And I overheard one girl tell another one that I hate her and I told her, “I don’t hate you, I love you, but I don’t like what you do.”

And it’s freakin’ after school, so it’s supposed to be fun. Let’s respect each other. And let’s get creative. Let’s write.

On my pinterest board, I reminded myself: The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.

I try to remember that. And I do give them a lot of love.

My friend thinks I should start calling parents and washing my hands of the kids who act up. But I don’t want to give up. I have faith in these kids. They just have to write more.

If only they’d write about their lives, I know they’d know themselves better and feel better about themselves. And maybe stop goofing off.

That’s why I blog — to know myself better and to feel better about myself. And to stop goofing off.

While I am feeling unhappy about my after school teaching experience, I’m hoping that my adult students on Thursday night will be a little more manageable.

Blogging workshop at new work city on January 9, 2014

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Why?

One of my daughters asked, “Why did he have to take her?”

The kids’ Sunday School teacher, Joyce Mwanalushi Landu, died suddenly while visiting her family in Zambia a couple of weeks ago. We learned the news last week. And it hit us very hard. I think Joyce was probably near 50 and the cause of death was heart-related.

Joyce was a beautiful, creative, spiritual person.

In a tribute at church yesterday, Laura talked about how Joyce never raised her voice or was physically affectionate or demonstrative, yet the kids were drawn to her and knew they had her respect. And she had theirs.

I believe Joyce truly loved my kids. Losing someone who loves you and whom you love is always crazy. It calls to mind all those people you’ve loved and who’ve died. A death makes you wonder about your own death and what kind of legacy you will leave. I would like to be remembered as someone who loved unconditionally, as Joyce did.

Australian hospice nurse Bronnie Ware, in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, said that a top common regret from every dying man she tended was “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” I know I work very hard, sometimes too hard. But then, I play hard too. (This book was quoted in that Atlantic article Why Women Still Can’t Have It All)

I understand nothing of God’s plan. Why did Chris have to get Parkinson’s? I am tongue-tied when my kids ask “Why?”

the kids at Rutgers Church during prayer time

All I know is that I have to love the people I’m traveling through life with. I have to make art and love my peeps.

I have to remember:

Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living; train yourself for that — but take whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself.  –Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet (1903)

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