backhanded compliments



It is the first week of back to school for me, and I have mixed emotions because my roles at school are mixed. But my word of the year accommodate urges me to find all the joy.

Not sure how much I've said on the topic already, but the fact is that I'm not an English teacher this school year, and it has been a challenging mental transition for me after working so diligently to achieve that role. I have loved teaching English. It suits me and all my nerdy inclinations along with my desire to teach.  However, the private school where I work needed my social media and editing expertise more and offered me a social media director position as well as being the Digital Journalism teacher, and I simply had to accept. I love where I work. It feels less like working and more like living true to myself, so I know it has been the best path for me. Accommodating space for change and flexibility this year has shown me that my word of the year was no accident.

Both of my positions entail teaching, writing, and shaping young minds, so that's why I say it has only been challenging and not earth shattering for me to stop teaching English for a time. Part of the Digital Journalism course is creating the school's yearbook, and I taught Yearbook last year, so having that constant has been comforting as I break into this new field of social media directorship. And I am enjoying what I do. Not many people can say that about their work.

There is something that happened on the first day that I want to share though, something that made me feel grateful and gladdened and even quite emphatically appreciated as a teacher:

While working in my new office, a student dropped by between classes. Several students have done so to say hello, talk about how excited they are for school to be back in session, and so forth. It has been a very happy time to have these small interruptions as I work. But this particular student came in and said something that stands out from the rest.

He began with something to the effect of I didn't really enjoy your class all the time. It was great, but I didn't always like it. And then some more stumbling over other words of that tone. And so, I was confused as to why he'd come into my office to share that, but I kept on listening intently, and I'm glad I waited for the turn for the better.

After mildly assaulting my pride, he added how sometimes we don't realize what we had until it's gone, that sometimes we have to have something not be there for us to appreciate it, and a few other generous yet indirect compliments. And then my mind connected it all, and I felt my joy overflow. I understand about not appreciating people and circumstances fully until things change or they are no longer part of my life. I understand too well. And now I understand how it feels to know when someone has realized what you gave to help them—how you gave your heart to help them learn.

This school year will be another big year of learning and growth for me, and I intend to remember this situation to remind me to appreciate people and my circumstances in the moment. It is good to finally appreciate, going through a gratitude process, but I believe it will serve me better to recognize how my gifts and talents make a difference despite who is or isn't appreciating them in the moment too. I will make room for every opportunity even if it means things get mixed up because in the mixing maybe there will be surprises like I had on my first day of school of not being an English teacher.


Side note: I have learned in my time as a teacher that when teenaged boy students begin with almost insulting points but have a kind smile on their face while doing so, you must wait for the compliment—or even find it hiding between the lines, beneath the surface.




1 comment:

  1. What a big change! And what a good attitude to have about that change. A good friend of mine who is an excellent coach and trainer recently quit his role at the gym and is opening a Life is Good store closer to his aging mother. I commented on the big change, and he said, "The universe seems to want this for me!" I loved his openness to what sometimes seems like a random change in his life's course. Best of luck to you this next year!

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