15 Nov

I’m in the middle of my first semester teaching a class classified as remedial.

I can relate to this term remedial.

Each student is dear, this is clear, but i am at a loss to teach the basics that teachers have been repeating for years to these on whom it didn’t stick.  Why didn’t the basics stick?  There is a separate and complex answer for every single one.  Each seat filled with a story, eyes conveying a barrier for the process.  I have never looked into so many eyes who want to be elsewhere.

I leave the class exhausted and depleted, feeling that I could use some remedial help in helping the remedial.

As souls, we meet in a room and I am touched by the loveliness here.  But the frustration for everyone is also palpable.  When frustrated, what is the normal human reaction?  Push back.  I bend in sway in this breeze.  I brainstorm how to teach this class better, each night, yet lessons fall flat, in part because I have slipped out of ease and into trying.  I appreciate that I can see this shift as it occurs, or soon after.    I make the familiar leaps in my brain, and slow these steps down, but they are not the logical steps for my audience.

The students in my regular college-level classes in contrast are looking like geniuses.  I lean into them like colleagues in the bar after work.  We share a common purpose, to make some progress in 7 weeks.  The remedial students have a different flow.

It is good of me to stretch, to fail, to try again.  It is good of me to get depleted to show where my imagined boundaries are.  It is good to not be able to rely on any old dog tricks of charm and tap-dancing for entertainment.  I am dying over and over – surprised to wake up again and again in this body and in this life – every morning a new introduction to myself in the mirror.  This person, the I,  goes to work, tries, again with this trying, succeeds in ways she will never even know and fails in ways she is equally blind to…

—- the grief can come in waves for the one who thought she knew something true to teach, for the one who thought her ideas were smart, for the one who laughed at her own jokes.  There is nothing that can go that should be held on to.  How ready I am to stop with everything false, clinging even as it tastes like metal in my mouth? A million mirrors are closing in on all sides of the me now.  If I compare me to yesterday, I have given up almost everything that once brought me pleasure in exchange for smelling every smell as it arrives, sweet and foul no longer relevant.  Broken can become – only this:   there is seemingly a nose and seemingly a breeze – and a schedule arranged by god.  There is nowhere I have to be that has not been preordained.  I am on some edge that looks like giving up freewill and intelligence.  I am giving over my voice and my eyes – I am emptying out of opinion.  Who will fill the air now?    We will see, now won’t we?

3 Responses to “remedial”

  1. Kelly Kuhn November 18, 2015 at 2:16 am #

    My grad program has a heavy emphasis on training and one of the things we are learning is that trainers must give participants a safe place to fail – for in that space we learn all the more. It sounds as though you are giving yourself that safe place. But you know that, of course. It’s that tricky process of seeing ourselves differently, and opening to another self. The Other Self. Ah, the joy of breaking through structures of who we have taken ourselves to be!

    • marga t. November 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      I can hardly express how helpful your words are, Kelly. Sometimes just a phrase is enough to shift the focus. I am realizing that I (at times) do not give myself that space to fail, and as a result, can not offer to others that which I do not give to myself. There has been an easing this week. Your program sounds inspiring – hope it is going well for you. Heart grateful for your sharing so generously with me.

      • Kelly Kuhn November 22, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

        Yes! This lesson is so easy to forget, so hard to master. But it is only through self-love, self-understanding, self-forgiveness (and more!) that we can truly and wholly offer these things to others. What grace! I am so glad to hear that my words helped you.

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