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The Substitute Teacher (Day 106)


Last week I worked as a substitute teacher after being unemployed since last December, so here I am going to share some realizations within this experience.

Well, last month I had to go to that school as well, because the head teacher of English was sick, so this time, I already had some notion about the school, students and how things more or less worked there.

This time the head teacher was not sick. She had to go with her class to do some charity activities, because it is part of the school projects in relation to the values they want to teach within their students as a catholic school.

The first time I met the head teacher I noticed myself being a bit nervous, because not teaching for about 8 months made me feel powerless and insecure. Although after I finished that day, I met the head teacher again and I noticed that after teaching I felt empowered. I told her the activities I worked with the classes in this very excited expression that one experiences after “performing”, meaning being active for a whole day speaking, moving from one place to another, etc. – So, I realized that teaching keeps me kind of alive somehow.

It’s funny because within the post Self-Judgment Within Communication (Day 102) I mentioned that I held onto the idea / belief that I am not good at speaking in public. But, when it comes to teaching 45 students and / or playing with my band in front of 100 - 300 people I can easily walk through the nervousness / anxiety and I don’t feel under pressure. So, this would be a cool point to investigate in a future post. Now, I would like to refer to something that happened last week within this new experience.

During the whole week I heard that teachers didn’t like teaching a specific class, because they were apparently lazy, slow, they had bad marks and they misbehaved a lot. Teachers compared this class with others that belonged to the same level (15 year-old students) and they defined them as a bad / troublesome class.

I didn’t want to create any expectations / judgments before meeting them, because I realized that what I was hearing were only opinions based on some teachers’ experiences that were probably created due to the way they define how a “good class” must be.

But something happened; the day before meeting this “troublesome class” that apparently no one liked, I started experiencing some resistance. It was the last day I had to go to the school and I started thinking “What if they make fun of me?”, “what if they treat me badly?”, “what if I’d better not show up tomorrow?”, etc.

Well, the moment finally came and I started walking into the classroom, breathing, keeping in mind that I have always liked like teaching that level, meaning, I have always had cool experiences when teaching 15 year-old students.

I knew where this class was but I asked the students outside the classroom “Is this C class?” and they immediately started joking but in a nice manner. They said “Nop, that classroom over there is the one you are looking for” lol. And as I like joking as well, I said “I can notice through your voice and face that you guys are lying to me. Let’s get in, guys” and we all laughed and came in.

The first thing I did was to open myself up. Meaning, I wanted them to know who I was behind my teacher costume. I mentioned some stuff about myself and I said that I didn’t like rules, because rules start with “don’t” and to me that was suppressing human beings’ expression. I said that I liked working with agreements and that the first one was that when I talked, they had to listen and look at me, so when they wanted to speak, I was going to do the same. - They agreed.

It was cool to realize how language / words can create a significant difference when we communicate. The simple switch from “rule” to “agreement” was definitely supportive in order to create a nice atmosphere within the classroom. I actually didn’t have to go “guys, silence!” and things like that. They self-regulated themselves. Yeah, the “troublesome class” was “hey, hush! Listen to the teacher” every time someone started to interrupt.

I taught them some vocabulary through a game and we were all having fun. And, by the end of the lesson I played the guitar and sang some songs with them. Interestingly enough, we had a very similar music taste. They liked punk rock bands as well as I do lol.

I know that what I experienced cannot define who they really are, because getting to know well a class takes from one semester to a year (according to my experience). But, it was cool to create that connection with them. Especially, because I proved by myself that opinions and other people’s experiences do not constitute what reality is. It only constitutes how THEY have experienced reality based on their mind settings. And mind settings definitely lead to how you experience reality.  For instance, if I – according to my mind setting – believe that the statement “Nop, that classroom over there is the one you are looking for” is disrespectful, thus I take it personally, I am of course going to have / build a “negative impression” towards that class and it will be experienced by me as something “bad” and I would probably react to it whether internally or externally and later I would be possibly saying “Those kids are a bad class”.

I realized that one has to adapt oneself to the context, because the context won't adapt to you. I can't just go there in an athoritarian stance expecting them to be quiet without moving and following all of my rules. That would create friction / resistance and no communication / learning process.

My favorite part of the lesson was to see their facial expression when I was asked "teacher did you ever have a mohawk?" and I said "Yeah, I had a blue and red mohawk" lol. I would definitely like to come back again.

Self-Forgiveness

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to have reacted with resistance towards a class before meeting them because of the opinions I heard.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear that the class was going to make fun of me and then I thought of not showing up the next day in order to avoid a bad experience.

I forgive myself that I have not accepted and allowed myself to see, realize and understand that opinions only represent how people / teachers perceive reality based on their mind settings and ideas about education.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to have felt powerless / insecure because I hadn’t taught for about 8 months, without realizing that that anxiety is part of my pre-programmed reactions that I have accepted and allowed myself to experience when having to teach after a while and before playing live with my band.

I forgive myself that I have not accepted and allowed myself to stop and breathe when I start experiencing anxiety / nervousness before performing / teaching in order to bring myself back to the physical here and thus, approach reality as self-direction and effectiveness.

Self-Corrective / Commitment Statements

When and as I see myself experiencing fear because of the opinions I have heard towards a class / person / group of people, I stop and breathe. I see, realize and understand that those opinions are based on people’s way of interpreting reality according to their mind settings that do not constitute reality as the physical.

I commit myself to stop and breathe when and as I start experiencing fear because of the opinions I have heard in my environment, in order to realize that other people’s experiences cannot ensure the outcome of my experience. Therefore, I commit myself to experience /walk  reality by myself instead of creating projections / judgments / fears towards something unknown such as a new class.

When and as I see myself experiencing anxiety / nervousness and / or feeling powerless / insecure, I stop and breathe. I see, realize and understand that I am responsible for accepting and allowing myself to fuel those emotions through participating in “what if” backchats where I also see myself failing and / or not doing an effective job because I haven’t been active for a while, instead of focusing on my breathing / body in order to be stable and thus, be able to be effective and diligent within and as self-expression.

I commit myself to stop and breathe when I start experiencing fear / anxiety and / or feeling powerless / insecure before performing / teaching in order to see, realize and understand that those backchats / emotions are not supportive and that instead of participating within the mind system I have to focus on here so as to do an effective / good job. therefore, I commit myself to make sure everything is well prepared before performing / teaching instead of participating within my mind as backchats and emotions that lead into fear that can affect my self-expression. 

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