Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Being The Only Gal
Today at work was frustrating. I'm one of 4 educators in a classroom consisting of a teacher and 3 para-educators. 3 of us have bachelor's degrees, one is working towards one. 3 of us are males and one is female (guess who?). In my naiive days that meant fun. I would have the attention of 3 men and since I am the only woman, I would be able to rely on those gentlemen, so capable at their jobs, to be gallant and help me with the workload in a classroom such as ours. I'm not saying do more than their share, but just have my back and do as much as I do. Oh, by the way, the class is all boys ages 13 - 21, of various intellectual disabilities and behavioral issues ranging from autism to dyslexia and other more serious things. (Thank goodness, for the one girl, age 17, who sometimes aligns with me, depending upon her mood. More often than not, however, she likes to try to show her own dominance with me, the only other female.)
I have found, however, that being the only female educator in that environment is sometimes a pain. I find that since I am instinctively more nurturing than my male counterparts, I am the one that seems to be doing much of the talking, reasoning, helping, soothing, listening and tutoring. Granted, when it comes to disruptive behavior, a big, gruff male is the best way to stop it. And in a classroom like mine, that male dynamic has to be there. All of the students have caught on to this and they know that I've got a soft spot. So they are always calling upon me. In some ways, this is very fulfilling to me. I love to help these kids, many of whom have not been given a fair shot in society and in their own homes. Many of them are living in foster care or group homes for various reasons. But they are so needy and it wears me out. ESPECIALLY since the guys in the room are all standing around in a little group talking about the latest sports news, the latest cool 'You Tube' video or the Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated and any other guy thing you can think of. If they aren't doing that, they are on their laptop or one of the student computers or the iPads issued to the classroom. What are they doing? Gaming. Oh, and don't get me started now that March Madness is here. They are going to have 3 computers playing 3 different games so that they can make sure to get the scores immediately so that they can make sure they win their game predictions.
Don't get me wrong, I love them. They're great. I am so appreciative when they help me, because when they do, it's amazing and a lot gets done. I think so much more could be done though. These kids really need all of us to give our all. I understand, too, that each one of us has burn-out phase. Like I did today. I actually had it up to here (pointing to neck). I said, "Hey, I've got a dental appointment today. I'm out. See you later." I left. Checked out. Gone. I came home and took a long, deserved nap. Maybe daylight savings time really got to me. More than I thought.Tonight me and my co-workers are getting together at our local 'Burger Supreme'. It'll be great. But I'm so over being the only gal in the room.