I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language, and I generally enjoy my job. I work part-time and pick up other shifts subbing. I was asked to sub yesterday, and I was asked to give the students an assessment… a test. The students were not pleased by this news, and it was very much new news to them. I took the first part of class teaching them about letter writing. It was supposed to be review, but it seemed full of ideas foreign to my students. When it came time to administer the test, they retaliated. They gave me every good reason why they should not have to write the test, and begged me just to teach them instead. I told them we were writing the test. I tried to prepare them for the test, giving them all the information they would need, but they were not listening. They had determined that they were not writing the test. I tried to explain that the test was the material which the teacher had left for them. I was just following orders. I didn’t know why she had left them this test, but I gave possible explanations, guessing at her motivation. They were stubborn. So was I. They threatened to go to a different school, an easier school, if I made them take the test. At one point another teacher walked by the window. I gave a slight nod of my head, beckoning for his help. When he entered, I told him the situation, and he told the class that I was just following orders. They could complain to their teacher, but they shouldn’t complain to me. It was nice having him back me up. He was a second witness, but the class still did not care.
It was then that I started to cry. I didn’t want to manipulate them with my tears, really, I didn’t want to cry, but it didn’t feel like I had much choice. My tears softened them, but didn’t change their resolve. They assured me that their frustration wasn’t against me, they promised that they liked me, but they were frustrated with all that had gone on that semester and they were not writing that test. One of the students came and put her arm around me, another told me not to cry, while a third asked me why I cried. The only answer I could think to give him was that I am fragile. Through my tears, I taught them the English saying “don’t shoot the messenger,” and pleaded with them again to write the test. One of the students asked me to just teach them. “I can’t teach anymore,” I said. I didn’t mean I could never teach again, only that it is hard to teach and cry at the same time.
The hour allotted for the test was now diminished by half. My resolve was weakened, and I asked them to try. I told them to do the test as practice, and I would help them, and they could ask me questions. I placed the tests on their desks. They looked one to another, trying to decide if they would indeed try. Slowly pencils met papers and they began the test.
I reflected on the question, “why did I cry?”
I cried because I felt disappointed.
I cried because I felt like they were trying to manipulate me.
I cried because I want to do what I have been told to do. Foundational to my molarity is a need to do what I am told, and what I have agreed to do. I am good at following instructions, but they sought to deny me of the joy of doing that.
As I walked home, I thought about prophets. I thought about prophets like Samuel the Lamanite who stood declaring a message only to have people hurl stones at him. I thought about prophets during the years when black members could not hold the priesthood. They wanted to give suggestions about why that might have been so, but really they did not know. They were simply doing what they had been told to do. I thought about prophets today, declaring hard truth against gay marriage. People may threaten them, tell them they will join a different church, an easy church, if the prophets don’t change their mind. The message doesn’t come from the prophet. If we must complain, we should complain to God. President Nelson offers that invitation in these words, “Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort. Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen!” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/revelation-for-the-church-revelation-for-our-lives?lang=eng)
I’d better post this, and then get back to work.