This is a reflection I just wrote to my professor regarding my class, Transitions and Collaboration. My professor is a principal at a middle/high school for students with severe EBD (emotional/behavioral disorders). While my program (if I choose to pursue it) will lead me to licensures in EBD and LD (learning disabilities), I have always worried about my effectiveness with kids with EBD (now I am pretty sure I am not good with LD kids either 😦 ). Anyway, the class has been kind of skewed towards helping kids with emot/behav problems transition from high school to adult life. (I was hoping it would include students with learning disabilities as well, which is what I am more interested in, but no such luck…) Anyway, maybe I revealed too much in my reflection….?
“On March 29, 2011 you made a comment about how teachers need to work to get the “light bulb to go on. Once you do, they’ll fly.” I immediately had a reaction to that. My ranting in my head led me to begin writing furiously. Something like this came out:
I just want to get to the “they’ll fly” part. Getting there seems just too much work and I feel hopeless and inadequate in helping a student reach this place. Particularly a student with EBD. Before they can believe in themselves, I have to believe in them. And I have to believe in myself that I can get them to believe in themselves. I think the reason I don’t believe in them is because-mainly-I tend to be a negative person. I’ve struggled my whole life with believing in myself even with a great childhood with loving parents and, for the most part, stability. I know how it is to give up and not want to go one more day, to not see a reason for living. How can I change the perspective of these kids how have so much more of a reason to want to give up…?
I know I’m in a healthy place now but I don’t know how to relate to students because my background is so different from theirs. I don’t know why I was born into the environment I was or why I struggled so much with emotional problems despite my mostly steady and positive home environment. (Granted a lot of it has to do with personality and brain chemistry). Still, I am, first of all, extremely discouraged by all the statistics I’ve read about regarding students with EBD. The unpleasant stories the professor tells about his students definitely coincide with these stats. Secondly, I am not confident in my abilities to make a difference in their lives. Even an imprint.
That night was not a good night for me. Now a few weeks later, I still feel similarly. However, I have more hope and belief in the fact that, not being able to (emotionally) work with students with EBD does not make me a failure or less of a person. Everyone has a gift in working with different types of people. The reason why I know I can’t work with EBD adolescents is because I, at times, can be empathetic to the point of incapacity. I know I must be an emotionally strong person to help others, especially students with needs like this. As a teacher, I have been developing the skill of letting go at the end of the day and trusting God to work in people’s live where I can’t. He loves them way more than I do anyway.”