Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sharpie es Mi Compañero

Sharpie es Mi Compañero

Why is it that I dislike my job so much? The disorganization of the school is frustrating as can be, but that’s not it. I’ve been pondering this question a lot lately and I think I finally got to the bottom of what it is.

I figured it out the day there was a retreat called RUAH. I thought this was an acronym for something, but Gingi, the fantastic leader, told me that Ruah is a Hebrew word that means ‘spirit’.

At this retreat the students did community-building activities. Gingi lead them in 2 minutes of silence. They tried it 8 times before they did it, but they finally were silent for 2 whole minutes and that made me realize they can do it. They had to cooperate as a group to get anything done. My favorite part was the goofy song he made up before the shirt signing: Sharpie es mi compañero, Sharpie es mi compañero, Sharpie, escribe sobre todo. This made me laugh pretty hard.

Sharpie es mi compañero

I had the chance to step back and observe my students. It was good to see them working so well together. I observed Gingi and thought, “This person is making a difference,” and that’s when it hit me.

I brought one laminated thing to hang on my wall here, and it is a quote by Gandhi. It is, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I guess this really sums up why I teach: to make a difference. It’s never been about money really, it’s always been about helping people.

I’ve been here almost 4 months and I’ve been getting headaches and stomachaches lately and wondering why. Besides the extremely loud volume at school, I think it’s the undeniable feeling that I am not making a difference. I do not feel like I’m helping my students become better people. I do not feel connection, which is very unusual for me especially after this long. I have been in classrooms for one day and felt, “Today I made a difference.” Clearly this doesn’t happen everyday anywhere. Teaching is not some magic thing that turns people into saints and miracle workers, nor is it a pill like Prozac that makes the teacher feel good.

After Ruah there was a closing ceremony where students were given awards for teamwork. Gingi had the students listen as he thanked the teachers. He had the students bless the teachers for our hard work. He said that we are here because we want to be here. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach of, “I’m not sure I want to be here.” I know I like teaching, but I’m not sure if here is the best match for me. I feel like I need to be making a difference, and right here, right now, I don’t.

Could this change? Of course it could. I know this has to do with me as much as it does with my school. Unfortunately, here I feel kind of like the un-me. I’m occasionally eating chicken after 20 years of pescetarianism, I’m not recycling anything because I can't, I’m not doing as much yoga as I should, and feel like I’m not being the most effective teacher for my students. I got an e-mail this week from one of my students I had 5 years ago. She said she wishes she could be in my class again. It reminded me that I can be the change I wish to see in the world. I think the key word here is change.

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