Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What a week...

...and it's only Wednesday!  However, it feels like Friday, because it was our last day of school before Spring Break!  I'd do a jig about that except that I'm too tired and sick.  When I'm teaching full time my body seems to hold off on sickness until the moment break starts, and then I inevitably spend the first portion of break with a cold or whatever. I'm not teaching full time (at 60% now instead of the previous 20%) but it certainly feels full time, and I guess my body is responding accordingly.
It was a rough week, particularly yesterday.  While I can't and won't go into specifics for the sake of privacy, the short version of the story is that I got reamed out by a parent for supposedly being mean, harsh, and critical to her student and basically ruining the student's life.  This parent was so mad that she told her friends about it, and one friend wrote an irate letter to the editor--presumably about what a horrible teacher I am--and has threatened to send it in to the local small-town paper, which has a policy of printing EVERYTHING (because it can often be a slow news area since it is a local paper only and does not publish even news about Portland, let alone national or global news).
Sooo yeah, that was a fun meeting.
I'm thankful that I prayed before and during the meeting to keep calm and hear the woman's heart and not just her words, and I could tell that she was just a big mama bear who felt that I had taken a swipe at one of her cubs.  As a mama bear myself, I could sympathize with her and apologize sincerely to both her and her child for the hurt I had caused, though it was completely unintentional.  I hope that some progress was made in the meeting towards trying to help the student understand that I care about them and want to see them grow.
But I have to admit that I am really dreading this letter to get published, because it is just plain unfair.  First of all, it was written by someone who does not know me at all (a friend of the parent) and who made no effort to get in touch with me to hear my side of the story.  Second, although I have not read the letter, I can safely assume that it is vituperative and possibly even vicious, given the way the angry parent was describing it.  It just seems to unfair that one adult would slander another without even finding out the whole story first.  I am planning to write a rebuttal if and when the letter gets published, and I have had several colleagues say that they support me.
And yet, I have to give a rueful shake of my head and say, "You're a funny one, God."  Why? Because something that I've become quite aware of since upping my hours and responsibilities at school has been how hard it can be for me to do things which I know will not make me a favorite.  I like to be liked, and I hate to be disliked. I know some people out there get a rush from being feared and even disliked as long as they maintain their power, but I am not one of those people.  I'm a pleaser, and having a whole town full of people possibly displeased with me is a very unhappy thought.  But it's also largely out of my control and as they say, "What other people think of me is none of my business."  That is one hard adage to live up to, though!  It's a good time to be saying the Serenity Prayer, attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr:
God, grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.  
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

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