"What are some ways of dealing with stress?" the speaker asked the roomful of student teachers at a seminar earlier this year. The girl sitting next to me suggested eating and shopping.
Those weren't responses to stress that the speaker recommended. She suggested getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, and finding a support system. There was no doubt in the speaker's mind that each and every one of us would experience stress no matter where we were placed or who we were working with or what we were teaching.
According to Competency 22 in the Office of Clinical Experiences' Professional Behavior Assessment, associate teachers will demonstrate emotional maturity by handling frustration appropriately.
I am handling frustration appropriately by writing about my frustration. I did not yell at my students. I did not take them by the shoulders and shake them (which I couldn't do anyway since nearly all of them are bigger than me). I did not call them names. I did not even clench my teeth (at least not too much). And I certainly didn't binge on cheesecake or head to the mall (When I'm upset I lose my appetite; I hate shopping).
I am handling frustration appropriately by asking the Lord to give me the grace I need to demonstrate Christ's love even when my students are disrespectful, rude and uncooperative. I am handling frustration appropriately by seeking to see my students as individuals with potential, not merely as self-center adolescents who are "wasting" my time and stealing the attention that I could give to other students. I am handling frustration appropriately by recognizing that the real goal is bigger than students passing a quiz on the counting principle and permutations.
Plough deep in me, great Lord,
that my being may be a tilled field,
the roots of grace spreading far and wide,
until thou art seen in me,
thy beauty golden like summer harvest,
thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.
"The Deeps" Valley of Vision