13. embrace the struggle?

In my classroom, there is a huge emphasis on allowing the students to struggle when problem solving. This frustates the kids, confuses other teachers/aides who are watching, and can sometimes create a state of chaos in our room.

Sounds like I’m a pretty rough teacher, huh? Either that or lazy. But trust me, there is method to my madness.

More times than not (in fact, I’d even go as far as saying every time), the students are able to activate their prior knowledge, use what tools they have, and communicate to solve whatever it is in question.

Do they arrive at the correct answer quickly? No. In fact, they may give me a wrong answer multiple times before figuring it out.
Do they make mistakes on the way? Absolutely.

But each time they make a mistake and answer incorrectly, they start to break through their confusion and travel THROUGH their struggle. They learn from each mistake, each wrong answer, and use that new knowledge to form a different conclusion.

By allowing my students to struggle (and teach them to embrace this uncomfortable feeling), they are able to approach challenges with a “you don’t scare me! I won’t back down” mentality. They no longer look to me to solve their problems for them, I’m simply a tool in which they are able to utilize when the time is right.

The past few days have been some of the worst I’ve experienced. To say I’m struggling is an extreme understatement. I alternate between intense panic attacks and brief (and i mean BRIEF) moments of realization.

I was explaining to my aide why I allow my students to make mistakes, share the wrong answers, and work through chaos and conflict. As I was talking, I was hit with a quick second of clarity.

Just like the kids, I have to embrace the struggle. There are mistakes to be made, wrong answers to be found, discomfort to be felt, and lessons to be learned in this terrible, awful, horrible, “swallow me up” state of chaos that I’m in.

Just like the kids, I will come out with knowledge. I will have learned the lesson and overcome an obstacle.

Is this easy? HA! My heart is pounding, tears are forming in my eyes, and I’m only half believing what I type. Do I want to be in this situation? Absolutely NOT. Do I wish that I could feel what I felt two short weeks ago? More than you can ever imagine. But I think I have to realize that this is where I am right now. This is the part I can “control.”

One of my beautiful coworkers dropped a card in my mailbox this morning. Inside the card she included this quote:

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest of souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” (Kahlil Gibran)

There is much to be learned in the struggle.

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12. the road ahead

What do you do when you feel as if your entire world has shifted into a nightmare? How do you begin to move forward when all that encases you is the deepest feeling of hurt, fear, and sadness? How can you remember and believe that God has an amazing plan for you when currently life makes absolutely no sense? How do you begin to heal from something you thought would NEVER happen? How do you do all of this even though it feels completely wrong?

These are questions that have taken over my thoughts in the past few days. When faced with something this earth-shattering, what can you do to help yourself get back to the road ahead? I know it may seem silly or dramatic, but it’s exactly how I’m feeling.

I am truly searching for a way to put one foot in front of the other. To move THROUGH this and not just around it. To come to an understanding as to WHY this happened and WHAT I can learn from this. Trying to imagine and understand a life different than what I had imagined a few short days ago. What I thought to be an amazing truth, a life I could live and genuinely LOVE.

I want to move forward. I want to be able to trust in the plan, whatever that may be. I want to understand how to feel whole again with half my heart missing. I want to see the positive, learn the lesson, grow, and move forward. I’m just lost in the HOW.

In the past few days, I have been absolutely blessed by the support of my family, friends, and amazing coworkers. They have been there to remind me of who I am, what I have to offer, and that there will be sunny days in the future. I’m trying to learn to trust their words, surrender to the process, and accept what has happened.

I know that I am a strong person. I am absolutely resilient. I can rise above any and all circumstances. But in this moment, it is hard for me to remember this. I’m having a difficult time believing that this is how the story is supposed to end. My heart tells me that maybe there may be a better ending than this one.

I’m searching for answers. Searching for how to move through this, stay positive, and heal. The road ahead is bright, and I know this is true, but I just need to figure out how to get there.

11. your layers are see-through

There is nothing more embarrassing than stepping out of the house in a brand new outfit, thinking you look perfectly put together, only to have someone stop you to tell you that your underwear is showing/you have a hole in your shirt or your fly is unzipped. A part you thought was hidden is now visible for everyone to see. Times like that call for large holes that swallow people on the spot or gigantic rocks to hide under.

But what if what is blatantly visible to other people isn’t something you are trying to hide? What if you aren’t actively trying to hide it because you have no idea it’s there? You have forgotten it’s there because of all the layers piled up on top if it. It is so far misplaced, forgotten, out of mind, and unremembered that when people notice it and remind you it’s there, it feels absolutely foreign. You want to look at them like they are nuts or totally discount what they’ve said.

Recently, I was speaking with a coworker about a challenging situation, becoming upset and full of self-doubt. Without missing a beat, he looked at me straight in the eye and says,
“Morrison, you’ll be fine! You are one extremely strong woman who always comes out on top.”
As soon as he said it, I actually took a step back, put on my best “are you CRAZY!?” look, discredited what he said and just kept on with the conversation.

I remember thinking to myself, “me? strong? HA! What about how I acted in ___________(insert situation here)? That certainly wasn’t what a strong person would do.”

This has continued to happen in the past week. People from all aspects of my life have been reminding me of my strength. Pointing out situations in which I was strong, how I continue to display strength and courage. No matter how hard I downplay what they are saying, I’m still hearing it loud and clear. I am strong. God must really have wanted me to remember what was underneath all my layers. It must have been something I needed to know.

So take a step back. What’s REALLY underneath all your layers? The layers of guilt, sadness, defeat, mistakes, obstacles, bad days, tears, hurtful words, and insecurities. Take time to peel them away, put out a search party for what’s unintentionally hidden. If you come up empty handed, employ the help of the people who love you. I can guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised at what they find. Once it’s exposed, BELIEVE IT. Because if the person really, truly loves and cares for you…they will be looking through genuinely honest eyes that only see the truth. What they see IS REALLY THERE.

And let’s be honest, you are worthy of knowing, believing, and living what’s underneath there. Your layers may temporarily cover them…but what’s underneath will ALWAYS be shine through.