Sunday, November 3, 2013

3. Self Control is the Gateway to Service

Looking back on my 6 "lessons" learned in the first 3 weeks of teaching, I am surprised to find that they still ring true to me. I wonder if this will be the case by the end of the year? I have now been in the classroom for over two months (it feels like much longer) and point number 3 feels more true than ever.

Found this on Reddit. 

Self control is an attribute our society at large struggles with. Instant gratification, 24/7 access to whatever whimsical or serious need we think up, and the false sense of value placed on "being busy" are just a few things I see as contributing to the degrading of this important characteristic.

Beyond our drive-thru and on-demand culture, self control manifests itself in education in a way I had not anticipated. When I started at my school, many teachers and the Principal told me, "Never let them see you sweat." In other words, don't let the students know that they are getting to you.

Well that did't work out so well.

Never in my life have I struggled more to control my words, the level of my voice, and the negative flood of emotions that inundate room 27 each day. Not to mention managing the frustration with things outside the classroom such as impossible insurance rates for teachers, apartment problems, and a seemingly never-ending workload that appears to have assassinated personal and family time.

Many days I keep my own tally of happy and sad points on the whiteboard, just to help me better manage my own person, and maybe help the students (who are 7-8 years old) begin to understand that everyone, young and old, must learn to manage their feelings.

:( = moments I lost control and went crazy
:) = moments I managed the chaos of my own feelings
The result of my two month wrestle with such feelings of anger and inadequacy have not rendered me as a new hero or refined instructor. At least not yet. 

But I do know that in order to actually help my students and my family, I first need to be able to control and help myself. Thus self control is the gateway to service. It is so easy to say, but very difficult to do. 

How can we help the hungry if we spend excess on food ourselves? How do we thoughtfully serve others if we are too busy being worried and depressed about our own shortcomings? 

The US Air Force mantra of "Service Before Self" is a companion of the concept I am addressing here. In order to serve others before ourselves, we must have mastery over our own passions, desires, and emotions. We must manage our own person, and then actively choose to lift others before putting our own ambitions forward. 

1 comment:

  1. Love that picture! Speaks to me and my daily choices too.