I am struggling with how to define success. Not for my students, but for me. Lately, I’ve been brooding. Not unhappy necessarily, but… pensive.
In my mind, I keep coming back to Chris Lehmann’s Letter to a Young Teacher. Wonderfully inspirational. It was exactly what I needed when he wrote it. However there is one part I still can’t get my mind around.
How does one learn to be okay with not being okay? I know I can’t reach every student, yet I keep trying. The students who are failing or aren’t doing as well as they could be. These are the ones I think about, on whom I focus as I’m reflecting upon my day. I know they have other things going on in their lives that are much bigger than not passing their math class. I’ve talked to their parents, their counselors, their other teachers. Should it make me feel better that mine is not the only class they’re failing? It doesn’t.
I know that I have no control over the choices they make. What I don’t know is how to balance not giving up and not driving myself crazy with worry. I worry about the freshmen. There are moments when I just want to shout, “You’re fourteen. How can you give up on life already?” I worry about the seniors. “What are you going to do in college next year ?” Admittedly the students about whom I worry are a very small percent. The majority of them will be fine. Somehow this isn’t enough for me right now.