Today I experienced a deep realization of my power. I can’t explain to you what happened exactly, but I know that some of the transformational work I did over the summer had a huge influence on my experience today.
As I have begun to heal, I have also begun to root myself in a place of calm, and sometimes my roots can even reach the most peaceful and profound parts of me. Working with students who are not only disengaged from an oppressive educational system, but also from their lives, can be a very difficult task, especially when I have to serve as a teacher in a classroom of 39 students.
In the past students experiencing such difficult transitions in their lives triggered a sense of powerlessness in me, evoking feelings of anger and painful memories of my own childhood. Some of my anger came from my own experiences in a failing system. Other aspects of my anger came from a place of not feeling qualified enough or worse failing at the job that I perceived as my calling.
Last year as I was learning to find my voice from a place of calm rather than from a place of anger, I had a difficult time with my classroom management. I knew that much of the behaviors and apathy the students were feeling for school had to do with the sense of powerlessness they felt over their learning. Because of this, I was more tolerant to behaviors that, later I reflected, were infringing upon the right to learn of other students who were trying so desperately to hold on to some sense of control over their education.
This year something definitely changed inside of me. There are times when I have to use assertive and direct communication with students. Though I understand where the root of their behavior is coming from, I also cannot allow the classroom to turn into an unsafe and intimidating environment for the other students. Understanding that the disruption comes from a place of pain allows me to engage the students from a place of love and compassion.
So what actually changed? Anger no longer has the power. When I used to engage the students from a place of anger, I use to end my day feeling powerless and at times defeated because I am not my anger. I am the part of me that loves. That’s the part of me that feels powerful, even when I’m exhausted at the end of the day. There are times when I feel a glimpse of anger, and when that happens, I use my breath as the anchor that roots me in my calm.