Don’t Take It Personally


Once upon a time, a dear friend who just started a career in teaching consulted with me about her challenging student.  I told her, “don’t take it personally.”  Sometimes students are not sharp enough to know what they are doing.

Now, every single day I have to tell myself not to take everything my students do personally.  I do believe as a teacher, I can’t just take everything personally and get hurt for what my students say or do.  If I do, I might have been crumbling with hatred and anger, crying every day after school.

My students behaviors are like the waves of the oceans…up and down…up and down….never ceases….

Disrespectful, resist to do work, talk back, ordering a teacher what to do, silent/not responding to the teacher to the point that makes the teacher raises her voice, denying God, denying being loved, giving up so easily, bargaining, failing tests even when the tests are open book, avoiding doing work, picking on classmates, poking friends, cutting self, crying, yelling, complaining, and the list go on and on….

Teaching 6 students feels like teaching 100 students…

I feel like I am teaching a self-contained class full of students with Learning Disabilities, Emotional ad Behavior Disorders, Autism, ADHD.

I am thankful that I studied SpEd these past two years….got perfect 4 GPA…..learnt a lot, eh?

Yet in the field, I feel like all my knowledge have drifted away…..I feel dumb… and unsuccessful in dealing with these kids.

How can you motivate a smart student who keeps on saying that he doesn’t want to do it, there is no point of doing it, he will not become anyone, that he is lazy to do it? Any reinforcements and consequences do not work anymore….

Constant low effort and giving up on self….. Complaining of the work to do…… grunting…whining…..

Sometimes I am so tired of them that I am yelling in my head to these kids….. (imagining I am holding their arms, shaking them and yelling to them “stop being a baby” or maybe imagining slapping them to wake them up and telling them that the world doesn’t revolve around them….that’s how bad my imagination can be)

This is why teachers do not want to teach 7th grade here.  Even the Navajo language teacher gave up; she doesn’t want to teach them anymore.

And to tell the truth, my students are not the only ones….. most students in this school are like that……they have serious behaviors problem and low academic achievement. Ok, just give you an example of an incident: at dinner time one day during this week, a young man in 5th grade suddenly stopped in front of the table where I and 5th grade teacher eating, he coughed with a loud voice intentionally in front of me.  I was so puzzled why he did it.  The 5th grade teacher immediately gave him consequence.  and not surprisingly he has behaviors problems in class too.

This is the hardest class I have been teaching so far in my teaching experiences.  I have taught hundreds of students.   Yet, teaching only 6 students now is a much more difficult than my previous teaching experiences.

The staff here believe we are in spiritual war.  I do too.  The teacher next door even prays and anoints her class with oil occasionally.  Most of us believe that the evil spirits are influencing them, especially knowing their religious background in the reservation.  Some of them are forced by their family to attend ceremonies, talking to the spirits….scary stuff, I tell you.

One of my students is torn apart between Native American Church belief and Christianity.  And that troubles her the whole week this week.  She told me that for some reason, she gets really mad in the Bible class and whenever I talk about God.  Her dad is a member of Native American Church (which is not Christian at all, don’t get wrong).  And she loves her dad so much to the point that she said she doesn’t respect anyone else other than her dad on the world.  Scary, sharp, hurtful saying which always comes out from her mouth.  She is such a troubled girl.  I (and other staff) pray hard for her.  I had to put her outside the class twice in a day this week because of her behaviors.

And that is only one case.  There are so much more, I can’t share them.

When I gave consequences to my students to write a reflection paper (write what you did wrong, why you did it, and how you can do it differently next time), they just don’t know why they did it. They just did the misbehavior over and over again without knowing why they did it.  And they are in middle school which I thought the age when they have critical thinking.

If you read this and you know me well and have a heart for it, please do pray for me and my students.  Thank you!

I believe I can survive spiritually and mentally here because of prayer support of family and friends.  I thank God for family and friends.  Thank you! You know who you are 🙂


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