Today, I cried

Lately, I’ve cried a lot. I’ve cried tears of sadness, frustration, anger. I’ve cried out of a pure feeling of being overwhelmed. I’ve cried in happiness. Tears help the emotions escape my body, and that makes me feel better.

The first time I cried while on this journey, I cried with people. I cried hearing their stories of sadness and difficulty, I cried feeling their pain. Together, we cried as we realised we no longer needed to cry alone. We cry together, and we laugh together too.

In between, I cried when it went badly. I failed at doing what I was meant to. I was unable to grasp their attention. I was unable to make them understand. I failed as a teacher. So I cried. But I knew others who had done the same. Tried, failed, tried again and then one day, succeeded. I spoke to these others, and learned what to do. I moved on.

I cried when planning, because I was unable to plan. I had learned what to do, yet I was unable to do it. I failed as a learner. But if I was unable, others weren’t. Others knew what to do. I got help, and I grew, and I moved on.

On the last day, I cried. Not because I was sad, per se, but because my kids were. Because I was leaving them. Because I’d miss them, and they’d miss me. Because I saw them cry. But we’d planned for it, but I’d keep in touch. So it was okay, and I moved on.

New setting, same problems. New students, same struggles. The same teacher, but new challenges. Again, it got hard and I cried. I was alone, and I struggled, but once I had cried it out I got help. I made changes. It got better and I moved on.

But the struggles continued, now with new players in the game. New people to challenge and question and doubt me at each stage. New things and people I feared.  New situations to learn to deal with. I cried out of fear and helplessness, and for the first time, I cried for all to see. Not just those who I trust, not just those who would support me. I left myself exposed and vulnerable, and I learned an important lesson. It’s okay to be vulnerable, when you’re building relationships. My students know who I am now, and they know what saddens me. I know that if I can cry with them, I can laugh with them. We feel together, and we move on together.

But today, something changed. Today I cried, not due to something I had done. I cried in pain and anger and frustration, because I witnessed the pain that my children are subjected to every day. I know the harsh reality, but it makes it no easier. I know I’ve been insulted for sticking to my ways, but seeing it in practice hits a lot closer to home. Literally. Today, I watched as my children were hit with sticks for the most menial of faults. I watched as this system that I am now a part of taught students that the only way to address conflict is with more conflict, and that the only thing to learn from our mistakes is not to be caught making them. I watched as my children were taught to walk away from an error only with pain and fear. Today, I cried out of hopelessness as I can play so small a role in this huge system, and I cried in anger at watching my children be treated that way. Today, I do not move on. I’m staying right here until something changes.  If I can choose the one mark I wish to leave here, it’s that violence is never the solution. I will see a change, even if it begins in one classroom and spreads to just one small school.

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