Monday, December 11, 2006

An empathetic soul

Last week I was able to confirm something that I have always known -- that I am empathetic. Part of the reason why I have always been guarded around people is that I know that I have the ability "to soak up the emotions of others." This can be a dangerous place to be.

In those days when I thought that I wanted to be a lawyer, I was told that my greatest strength was my empathy. I had the ability to put a potential client at ease because I could understand how they were feeling and could communicate this. I also had passion, due to this, that made me fight for them to the fullest of my abilities. This is part of the reason why I left law school. I felt too much. I was starting to feel like Danny Elfman and crew.

And then somewhere down the road, I found myself in education. Talk about soaking up pain. I have been able to mask my emotions but I cannot turn them off completely.

Last Tuesday, I checked in with the science coach. My students go to science on Tuesday but last Tuesday I was at the vocabulary skills workshop. When I told the science coach that I would not be around, she was reticent to have my kids in the lab. As it turns out, partially due to the preparation work I had done with them in class, my kids were near perfect in lab. They had ideas to share and were able to complete the work.

The science coach told me on Wednesday when I asked about the student behavior that she had been worried about me. She was the one who had hired me for summer school. and she said that the reason for hiring me had been because of my motivation to teach -- my heart. She shared with me that over the last few weeks, what she had seen was someone who hated her students. This seemed contrary to the person who she had interviewed. I explained to her that I was feeling frustrated but after following the changes suggested by my mentor I was feeling better. When I spoke to my aunt, a veteran educator, she said that she had noticed the same thing. My aunt then mentioned that once I started making the recommended changes in my classroom that I seemed to return to my former self.

I have learned from this process that I cannot disconnect completely emotionally. I have learned the hardest lesson for a natural pessimist -- to see the positives in all things. My mother has tried to make me see this for many years but now I finally understand. It's not just a question of other people. It directly feeds into my energy.

Part of the reason why I left law school was that I knew I felt too much. I learned to shut off my emotions on some level to protect myself but not enough. When my students became truly frustrating, I became afraid of being sucked into something from which I could not extricate myself. Many thanks to the mentor teacher for showing me ways in which I can feel "normal" again.

And I did head out over the weekend. Well, at least on Friday night. It was the district holiday party. I was about to bail but my aunts told me that I had to show up. I ended up in a long conversation with one of the members of the school board. No, I did not approach him. He stopped me. If I didn't know better, I would think that it was my silver silk pants. Because of course I looked hella cute. (For those of you elsewhere in the country, "hella" is a completely Bay word to use. As in, "That calculus test? Hella hard." In college, this is what sold me out as a native of the Bay. Not sporting silver and black like the Nation. And crap. On Friday that's exactly what I was wearing. I also realized that the district art teacher is married to the high school principal. We had never put together the fact that they have the same last name until we saw them dancing together at the party. And they are so cute, you just can't hate.

Queenie and I headed over to Kitty's after the party. Lots of fun there. Although it took some time for the DJ to start spinning. Eh. Just meant time for me to have a Persephone's Bees before the dancing started. My one regret is that I blew off this really nice 42-year-old for some boy toy. Back in the day, I would have said that he was cool enough to hang with me. I'm not sure what made me not recognize my own kind. Wel, actually I do but I don't want to go into it now. One day I will learn.

Oh yeah. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. I switched over to Blogger Beta yesterday and then procrastinated by tweaking the template some so that it would look closer to what it used to be. And there was quite a bit of tweaking and research involved. It is perfectly hellish trying to bring Haloscan over to Blogger Beta. Luckily I found a link to someone else's blog who had already solved the problem. I would not commit to the new features, which entail a change in template, until I could solve this problem. I guess that's the joy of beta though. You get to be the guinea pig who works out all the kinks.

Thanks to Hilly, I have added a new toy in the sidebar. It's a message recorder from Snapvine -- listed under "Talk to Me." All you have to do is call 1-641-985-7800 and enter the code *2483138 to leave me a message. (This same information can be obtained by hitting the "Record by Phone" button.) The things I do when I am procrastinating about finishing my work.

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