#Kinderblog, Week 4 Challenge:
Write about a relationship (either personal or professional) that challenges you, or is maybe difficult for you. What makes it hard? What are the ways that it makes you grow? Is it worth the difficult-ness? Why do you think that relationship came into your life? What are you learning from it?
Before coming to Charleston and teaching Kindergarten, I had not worked with a teaching assistant. I had experience co-teaching with ESOL, EIP, and SPED teachers – but had no experience having someone in my classroom all day long. Someone who was meant to help me in all aspects of the classroom. And this relationship my friends – challenges me everyday.
I will be the first person to tell you I am a control freak. There are certain things that I like certain ways – things that may seem trivial to others (name tags, labels, folders, etc.). These things, in my brain, are not trivial. My tendancies toward organization and neatness ride that fine line of Type A/OCD, with OCD winning out. I have difficulty letting go of some tasks (laminating, copying, cutting items out) just because I am used to doing them myself. So while I am challenged to let go of some control, I also realize I am difficult for my assistant to work with. It is not that I tell someone no, or fuss that something isn’t right, I just never give the other person the chance to do it. In school, group projects were always difficult for me – I usually did most of the work (which at times I resented, but brought on myself). My concern for having things perfect or “just right” makes the setting up my classroom challenging. It makes welcoming the help of others challenging. It makes trying to help me challenging.
My first year with a teaching assistant, I had substitutes until the end of October. By the time Mrs. Jones and I found some sort of a groove, the school year was over. This past school year, we had the ENTIRE year to be together. She, bless her sweet heart, figured out how to “take” tasks away from me. Small things, such as putting up the lunch choice, she would just start doing. Each morning, I would come in and see something she had taken over. Thankfulness would fill me. I was so grateful she had become comfortable enough to take initiative and also realize what I was able to let go of – without asking her, because I am not very good at asking for help. I am also not very good at telling someone what I need done.
The professional relationship of teacher/teacher assistant is also challenging because I am somehow like her boss. I am a teacher, I’m in the business of supervising children, not adults. Taking on the role of supervisor to another adult was unexpected and something I hoped to always avoid due to my lack of desire to ever go into administration. Add to this the fact that I was raised super Southern, with heavy emphasis on respecting your elders. Mrs. Jones is my elder, so how dare I tell her something to do? Many requests would be worded something like this: “Mrs. Jones, do you mind…?” To which she would respond, “Of course I don’t mind… You don’t have to ask!” This was our dynamic – my cringing discomfort with telling her what to do combined with my cringing discomfort letting anyone else do anything. However, we made it work.
Which brings me to this school year, beginning with pre-planning August 11 and A NEW ASSISTANT! Y’all this brings me so much anxiety. Mrs. Jones and I had found our groove. I was just beginning to adjust to having an assistant – and now I have to start over. So my biggest professional relationship challenge right now is now even more challenging. Deep breaths!