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Living Loz
A life update... 
3rd-Jul-2013 07:19 pm
Loz Cola
Under the cut I recount something that happened today. Something that I think shows who I've been, how I'm growing, and how things currently stand.

We had a performance today by an Indigenous Australian man from Northern Queensland. He was fantastic; had the students complete engaged, involved student participation, used some of his language. The first part was all about dance, the second was about throwing spears and boomerangs. It's the fairly stock standard thing that mainstream kids get --- surface details, but it was well done, and they were into it.

In the second part, he called for teacher volunteers to throw boomerangs. Rather than the teachers volunteering, the students started screaming our names. And I don't know, perhaps I should be proud, but my kids? By far and away the loudest. Seriously, their voices rose as one, chanting for me. (Actually, I am proud. It pleases me that my students know I'd have a go at something like this, that they want to see me do it, that they're enthusiastic.)

So, it's me and a male teacher, Mr R, and we're told how to throw the boomerang. I listen, and I think, "It doesn't sound too difficult, so this will probably fail spectacularly."

And oh man, do I suck. I suck badly. Mr R's goes flying through the air perfectly, looks amazing, is a true spectacle. My first go is absolutely pathetic, going about a metre ahead of me and not very high. My second (because I am offered a second) isn't much better. My students go, 'good try, Laura', 'that was great!' And it's --- it's pity. Adorable pity, but pity none the less.

I got it from teachers as well until the end of the day. "Laura, you were so brave./You had a go./You did a wonderful job./Of course Mr R's had to be insanely perfect, it's just his luck./Was it hard to throw?"

No, it wasn't hard to throw, I've just never been particularly athletically skilled, in anything, ever.

There was a keen sense that those teachers were there thinking, "I'm really glad it wasn't me who made a fool of myself in front of the entire school. HAHAHAHA." And, you know, that's human, and funniest home videos and reality shows exist for a reason. Schadenfreude is alive and well.

The thing is, my self-esteem is so fragile that I really wanted to cry. It reminded me all over again of that shitty moment during a 'Play is the Way' PD day when I fell over and couldn't stop the tears, and then was paraded in front of the staff of four other schools as a 'teaching point about building self-respect'. It humiliated me. I'm not always the most resilient. If I am in control of my stupidity, it's alright. If I'm dancing like a pillock and fully cognizant of how ridiculous I am being, I never worry about it. But when it's out of my control, it affects me, makes me feel raw, reminds me of past bullying, past idiocies. I have a history of thinking about humiliating situations decades after the fact.

I didn't cry. Not a single womanly tear. I laughed it off, pointed out that the fact I put the effort in was the most important thing, talked to my students about situations not always going the way you want them to, about not always being the winner, about what to do when someone's better than you, about what to do when you make a mistake.

I took everyone's lightly mocking pity and thought, "I don't need it, actually, but thanks all the same." And that's the point of this post. I'm not sure that would have been true even as recent as two years ago.

Perhaps you never fully get over self-esteem issues, maybe gaining a sense of self-worth if you don't start with much is only possible with time, it could just be that it takes effort for over-sensitivities to one day become mere sensitivities; no longer crippling. But there's hope.

3rd-Jul-2013 10:34 am (UTC)
Apart from the details of your experiences, that sounds very much like the sort of thing I could have written myself. It does sound, though, as if you've got a good relationship with your students and a wonderfully positive attitude which I'm sure they'll remember always.
3rd-Jul-2013 11:49 am (UTC)
Aw, yeah, my students and I get along famously. You can't fake the happy grins and "hello"s they give me.
3rd-Jul-2013 11:35 am (UTC)

The truth is, petal, that you're much further along than you realize. What you're perceiving as it rolling off other people isn't the truth either as for many of them it hurts too, it's what they choose to show to the world that's different as is what you showed to the world today.
3rd-Jul-2013 11:48 am (UTC)
When you're a kid you don't realise almost everyone else is faking their confidence, bravado and ability to laugh in the face of embarrassment. I wish more people were honest in how sometimes you feel badly but you just have to suck it up.

I don't think everyone frets and worries late into the night at the age of 20+ about mixing up the words 'schnitzel' and 'smorgasbord' when they were speaking in front of their year 7 class (as a student, I might add, not a teacher), though. I really did used to make beating myself up over truly minor embarrassments a major art form.

Edited at 2013-07-03 11:52 am (UTC)
3rd-Jul-2013 12:17 pm (UTC)
Plus points: your class wanted their teacher to take part and you were prepared to stand up and do it. For years I would have curled up in a ball if anything like that was even suggested.

Now, I'm a lot more confident, but it's taken years and years, two children and a lot of different experiences. And getting older and no longer caring as much!
3rd-Jul-2013 12:19 pm (UTC)
Yup. My evil, evil class. :D Actually, it was really cute that they were so into it.

I do think that growing older and having fewer fucks to give has been part of it :D
3rd-Jul-2013 01:15 pm (UTC)
I think that's a sign that you're an excellent teacher, to be able to take a moment when you were feeling crappy and turn it into a teaching point so your students can learn. Go you!!
3rd-Jul-2013 02:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you <333
3rd-Jul-2013 01:45 pm (UTC)
that shitty moment during a 'Play is the Way' PD day when I fell over and couldn't stop the tears, and then was paraded in front of the staff of four other schools as a 'teaching point about building self-respect'.

3rd-Jul-2013 02:25 pm (UTC)
I've been searching through my journal, convinced I wrote about it, but apparently I never did. Too painful.

Basically, we were in Alice in 2011, middle of the year, most of the Lands schools involved. We were doing this training and development all about building kids' resilience through games that were difficult to succeed at, and this one required team work, co-ordination and speed. We had to pass these balls down a line and put them in a bucket at the end. If you drop the ball, you run and put them back in the starting bucket to go all over again. So, first time this ball comes towards me, I drop it, and go running, no real problems, except I'm on a team with some ragingly competitive douche teachers (including the epic arsehole dude, if you remember him - the guy who used to enjoy saying whatever he wanted, not caring about anyone's feelings.) Second time, because of course I fumbled it a second time, I go running off at breakneck speed, trip over and land heavily on my shoulder. I am, by the way, the only one who's dropped it.

Naturally, at this point, I'm feeling like an epic dick. I'm a little shocked, a little sore, very embarrassed, and I can't help it: it makes me teary. I get back up again, though. Third time, I am so damn careful, I make sure that fucking ball GOES to the next person. At the end of the game, Dude running the training has noticed I have a couple of tears running down my face, points it out to everyone, and asks if I'm drawing on past experiences in being upset about this. I can only nod, mutely, not able to believe he's actually showing everyone how upset I am. At which point he launches into a spiel about building students' resilience/self-respect.

It was really mortifying for someone who's reserved, with low self-esteem, and a knack of beating oneself up.

Edited at 2013-07-03 02:26 pm (UTC)
3rd-Jul-2013 03:37 pm (UTC)
There's something horribly grating about that sort of "You're so brave to try!" pity. It's almost worse than someone making fun of you.
4th-Aug-2013 01:00 pm (UTC)
I am so glad I'm not the only one who feels that, hah.
6th-Jul-2013 08:13 am (UTC)
talked to my students about situations not always going the way you want them to, about not always being the winner, about what to do when someone's better than you, about what to do when you make a mistake.

You are the BEST teacher. THE BEST. ♥
4th-Aug-2013 01:00 pm (UTC)
<333 Thanks, Sky.

(LJ didn't send me comment notifs, and this is the first time I've been on my journal in... a month, apparently.)
6th-Jul-2013 10:21 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad you shared this - it was fascinating to read and gave me hope :-)
4th-Aug-2013 12:59 pm (UTC)
Sorry I didn't reply sooner. I never got a comment notification and I don't go on LJ as obsessively as I used to. Thank you <333
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