I've been feeling so stressed out in my job. Being a special education teacher is not the easiest thing I've ever done. Every day I face challenges with student attention, behaviors (trying to learn how to treat others and be respectful/no bullying even at the high school leve), covering academic content, processing legal documents, grading, meetings... the list goes on. It starts to wear on you when you feel like just as you make a little headway, you take 18 steps back (slight exaggeration there). It also wears on you when you don't feel appreciated by staff or students for all you do (Note to self: this isn't about you so get over it!). I just wondered if I was making a difference in the lives of my students who really do not seem to care about anything we do.
So lately I've been asking "Is this really what I'm supposed to do? Why this? I can't do it anymore." I've been so exhausted I have no energy for family of playing with my son. It's not like me. I'm not happy with what I'm doing because of the stress. I poured all this out and then I believe I received my response....
First, on one of my commutes either to work or home from work (I can't remember- it's been that kind of week), I was flipping through radio stations. I usually go between talk radio, Christian talk radio and Christian music (sometimes country). As I was flipping, I heard the story of a woman who was contemplating suicide until she received a card in the mail. She read this lovely card and stated that to her, it was God telling her "Don't give up". Another woman came on and said the same thing. I started to notice a theme the more I listened. So, I said to myself, "Self, you believe this is where God wants you. Think about how it came to be. Don't give up. Don't give up. Don't give up." I decided to keep up and re-evaluate later.
Yesterday, I was called into a meeting with a student of mine that I haven't seen daily in 2 years. I love this family dearly. They have been so encouraging and kind to me throughout my teaching career. When I walked in to the meeting, I was welcomed with a great big hello and grin from the student and a huge hug from his mom. I was sooo glad to see this family. It was what I needed to end the week. If nothing else had been said, I would have been good, knowing at I have at least been there for this family and done the best I could with their son.
As the meeting progressed, we discussed how the student had been doing and his summer activities. I learned that he was able to participate in a program I referred them to over the summer. When asked how it all came to be, the mother looked at me and said, "It's because of Mrs. C". I didn't really realize what the program had done or the fact that just referring someone to something could have so great an impact on their lives. The student is getting a part time paid job because of the summer program, has a job coach, a girlfriend, is making great progress in his academic goals at the vocational school and just overall doing fantastic. When I heard all that had happened and that they THINK it was me who was behind it all, I felt good. "Yes, I'm doing what I should be doing and I have made a difference. God is using me, all is going to be okay." This moment is what I needed. It was my card that said "Don't give up".
Now, I'm not saying this to boast of myself. Please don't think that. I'm saying that God is a great encourager. He uses the smallest voice to speak to us and tell us we're doing a good job and to keep up the good work. Listen to His voice. You never know when you'll hear it.