Teenagers are frustrating, whether canine or human. Neither want to listen and both require more patience than I have today.
The lack of patience is my own failing. I knew what I was getting into both with the profession as well as the dogs. Neither group is “bad” and both act according to their natures. Not being naturally patient, or kind, I have to struggle sometimes with my nature to be who I need to be for both groups.
Weighing on my mind today is a piece of advice one of my favorite high school teachers gave me when I was student teaching. She told me that it was better to be kind than to be right. I really (like obnoxiously so) like to be right. I need to be kind.
My frequently misbehaving furry friends need kindness. They need me to forgive them them for trying to eat the half filled out scoring guide I was using to grade an essay. They need me to gently repeat, over and over and over, the lesson that humans don’t play by biting and nipping. They need kindness in redirecting their long-contained energy away from rowdy play on the couch. It is a kindness to teach them boundaries and proper behaviors and to do this in the most compassionate way possible. They also need me to remember that they are puppies, even if they are in big bodies.
Several years ago, I started looking at other teachers in a different way. Before, I watched for teaching techniques, content delivery methods, and behavior management “best practices”. Those things are certainly important, but maybe that wasn’t where I should have focused. I thought that there must be a “right” way to do everything in the classroom and that this would be best for my kids. Then, I started looking at the teachers the kids loved and were willing to work for. Some kids will learn, behave, and succeed no matter what or who is teaching. Some need structure and routine and for the teacher and classroom to be predictable. Some need variety and constant stimulation. They need me to remember that they are still kids, even if they are in grown-up sized bodies. All of them need kindness.
I decided, then, that if someone were to describe me, the words I would want them to use (and didn’t) was that their teacher was kind, calm, and capable. I want my kids to feel peace and safety. I know that life isn’t peaceful, safe, or often kind. But. (Isn’t there always a but?) I can be kind, as much as possible.
I’m not there, yet. It is likely that I will never get there, but I will keep trying. I still get frustrated when kids argue or refuse to use time and resources given to them. I get loud when a 90 pound dog uses me as a trampoline or smacks me upside the head while trying to play. Then, I have to remind myself to be kind.
Today the phrase is written in large, clear lettering on an index card on my desk. (I am struggling to be kind and not insistent on “right”)
So, in the interest of accountability, today, tonight, and tomorrow, I will be kind in the following ways.
I will be kind to my students by remembering that Caesar can be hard and giving them some down time, even if it is just a few minutes.
I will be kind to my boys by taking one for a walk and giving the other two a special treat. They all get extra play time.
I will be kind to my department and bring muffins for breakfast tomorrow.
I will be kind to myself and remember that although I wasn’t always who I wanted to be today, no one is perfect and I can try again tomorrow to be calm, capable, and kind.