I was supposed to take my principal certification test today. I had stressed and thought through answers, worried if I knew the right stuff, and walked into the room- the first one there mind you and...
The ETS testing system crashed.
Not just got a little buggy. Send-you-home-and-tell-you-they-will-have-to-reschedule down.
I hate having my time wasted, and as I left- angry and frustrated at a lost personal day and a set-back (small as it is) in my pursuit of an administration position- I had a choice.
I could stew in my anger, send an angry tweet to ETS, and not do much with my day off.
Or I could build something.
See, when I am angry or stressed, building helps me cope. It helps me process. I felt ETS had wasted my time, so rather than complain about it, I took back my time.
First, I identified a spot to build. In that place was an old kids cabin. I could take a sledgehammer to it, tear it all down to splinters and it would feel good. But the wood was still possibly useable, so I dismantled it with care.
Then I had to gather supplies. Some were hard to find, others were heavy to lift. Lots of sweat went into getting things ready and in place. This took time, persistence and strain. Some of the objects I had to move were tree trunks from a summer project. Tree trunks are beasts.
Finally, I could build. But I had to be creative and adjust and reshape and dig in and exert some more sweat. In the end, this is what I built.
Once there had been an unusable structure, now there is a place for my family to have a fire and roast marshmallows. Or hotdogs.
Once, the ground was useless, now it can foster relationships.
Now imagine this this story is about that tough student in your class.
They feel you are wasting their time, but lack the coping skills to be productive. So you have to be a builder.
They have behaviors in place that do not have much use- or they are dangerous and harmful behaviors. You can tear them down with a sledgehammer of "Do it because I said so." It'll feel good for minute to be "right." Or you can dismantle the behavior with respect, because some parts of that personality may still serve a valuable purpose. And you create a space for growth.
Second, you have to do work to prepare to build. You have to bring to the student the proof that you want to invest in them. Respect. Trust. Hope. Some of these feel like tree trunks, but they must be brought to the build site, or nothing will be built.
Finally, you have to give the building materials of trust, respect, and hope the opportunity to do their job. Give the student a chance, a responsibility, a role. See what builds.
I am a teacher.
I am a builder.
In my classroom, I want to be both.
Because I hate wasting my time.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, Communication Applications and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team and co-sponsor Student Council. I am an aspiring administrator.