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Forgiveness

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Last year, a friend gave me a great idea: instead of making breakable resolutions, why not set intentions for the year? Intentions are harder to break. If you slip, it’s not a moment to give up entirely, but merely a chance to refocus and start again.

I gamely set my intentions for 2012, typed them, printed them out on pretty paper, and posted them next to my desk. Lo and behold, when I did some evaluating at the end of the year, I had met almost every single intention with a fair amount of success.

I decided to try it again this year, and wracked my brain for ideas. What else needs working on? I’ve got a good handle on my lifestyle and fitness, so I intend to continue making that a big focus in my life. I made great strides in bringing my career back from two years of unemployment in 2012, so I intend, this year, to bring even greater things to myself by taking (and making!) opportunities for myself.

There’s just one glitch.

I am still carrying around some hefty self-doubt in my mind and heart.

At my last full-time teaching position, I had a boss who decided, without ever stepping foot in my classroom, that I was a bad teacher. When she did finally come into my room to observe me, she stood in a back corner with her arms crossed, glaring at me. The students eyed her, looked back at me. It was obvious—Ms. C. was persona non grata at this school.

Despite this, I taught some really great lessons and built a good rapport with the kids. They were 7th and 8th graders, not terribly interested in learning about art and music, but I could get most of them to give painting a go. They even produced some nice artwork, which I displayed in my classroom with pride.

And yet, when it came time for formal evaluations, my boss gave me all low scores. Seven previous years of teaching, and seven years of satisfactory evaluations, were all thrown away as she decided I was a terrible teacher who didn’t deserve to stay in her school. I lost my job in 2010.

As I look back at the next few years of job-searching, interviewing, and dead ends, I realize that a lot of what has held me back has been the doubt that one boss instilled in me. I can certainly blame her for being unreasonable, and for being dishonest in her evaluation of my teaching, but I cannot blame her for the ensuing self-doubt that kept me from truly getting my career back.

So in 2013, I’ve decided there is one intention I can set that will help me continue to gain ground in my career once more. I need to let go of my anger towards this former boss and work on forgiving her. Then, and only then, can I truly understand that her hold on my life is finished, that I am definitely a fantastic option for any school, and then I can move towards becoming not just a good teacher, but a great one.

It is difficult, practicing forgiveness. This lady was widely regarded by most people she worked with as difficult, unfair, and a bad school administrator. When I picture her in my head I can only see her pinched expression, and hear the accusation in her voice as she told me I should make my students draw in Sharpie so they could “own their mistakes,” because allowing them to use pencil to make their art all they wanted it to be was too soft.

But I’m working on it. Sometimes I swallow my own considerable pride and say out loud, “Ms. Principal, I forgive you.” Sometimes I offer a small prayer to the universe that she is happier now, in her new job designing cheerleading costumes, than she was as a school principal. That the people she works with now get a nicer person to work with.

It’s only January, so this pill is still very bitter. I hope that by December, as I revisit this year’s intentions, I’ll find that when I think of this woman, I no longer feel angry, or tense. I hope to feel peaceful, and forgiving.

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