Rewind to my second week teaching here in Palestine. I am in front of a group of raucous, rowdy, grabbing, yelling, complaining, playing, sometimes kicking, third-graders. I don’t know what to do. I yell. I clap. I cry. I even leave the room to get help from another adult, fighting back tears. I know the tears aren’t just about feeling out of control in the classroom. They span across the city, through my home, within my heart, back to the U.S., the yoga teacher training, the jet lag, the culture shock.
It seems like just yesterday that I wrote about how intense my third graders were. They have definitely continued to be one of the most challenging groups I’ve taught this year. Yet, I just wrapped up a weekly class with them — the hardest group, the ones I cried to seven months ago — and it was a tremendous experience. They knew the routine and they were excited about their collage project. The ones who finished early knew exactly where to go to find something to do. Today I received at least ten “I love yous” from this class, and when I walked them back to their regular classroom, I got a huge hug.
Challenges reap rewards, and the reward of seeing students behave autonomously, and receiving words and pictures of love from them, has been well worth the journey. Through anger, sadness, happiness, and joy, I am learning to accept the heart expansion that comes with every experience, and it is beautiful. Onward.