I decided not to give up!
I worked tediously on October’s assignment. I read and reread. I wrote and rewrote. I was determined to show Dr. D, the tyrant, that I was not a C student. I wanted to be at the top of the class. I knew my attention to detail would earn a better grade this time.
We were told that we had to keep a journal of our administrative experiences during the school year. Dr. D shared several formats, and a few were brief and required minimal documentation. We would turn the journal in during the last class.
I had become more reflective during my experiences. I decided that my journal would be open and honest. I wrote at least weekly about things that happened to me, what I thought about them, and tried to address the impact that the class and the leadership roles I shouldered in my school were making on me.
The first few entries described the difficulties I’d encountered trying to juggle all of my roles including going back to school with an 11-day old. I documented my tears. My frustration. I honestly wrote about how I felt about Dr. D after that first assignment. I didn’t hold back—I poured my frustration and irritation into my journal. I knew that I could remove the entries before I turned it in if I felt I needed to. But writing all of my hateful feelings about Dr. D and the exhaustion I was experiencing actually helped me grow.
During that time, he asked the class to call him “Mickey” instead of Dr. D. I refused to drop my guard and continued to use his more formal title. This guy had crushed my spirits and I didn’t want to be on a familial basis with him. At least not yet.
And, I thought, IF he continues to be critical of me, I’ll just drop the class.
During October’s class we handed in our written work and discussed the readings. My attention to detail, at least during the discussion, paid off. I answered questions that others could not. My confidence was coming back—for the moment.
When he gave back our September assignments, I took a deep breath and steeled myself to see the score on my work. I had gotten a B, and the comments were, surprisingly, more positive and uplifting. But he still commented, “You can do better.” I felt the tension leave my body as I realized that I was capable, and improving.
I was always exhausted. I decided to hire Jean to come over a few afternoons a week to watch my sons so I could really focus on my assignments.
I kept journaling, sometimes on a daily basis, as I was watching my sons. They kept me grounded and reminded me that I was competent. I realized that I was no longer writing it for the class. I was writing it for me.
I began to enjoy the class. All of my future assignments received As, and positive comments. However, Dr. D continued to push me. He saw something in me that I had been unaware of. He did make me think. He did encourage me. He refused to accept anything less than my best.
And, instead of Dr. D, I, too, began to call Dr. D “Mickey”.
We submitted the final assignments and our journals in May. I was stunned to see that the other students had only file folders containing their journals. I submitted a binder. It was over 150 pages. At that moment, I knew that either I was an overachiever or that I’d really messed up.
I made my final appointment to stop by Mickey’s office and pick up my assignments and journal. That feeling I’d had in September when he’d chewed me out came back. I had deliberately left in my journal my feelings about Mickey. What if this guy I now looked to as a mentor had taken exception to my harsh words about him and the fact that I’d totally disregarded the formats he’d given? What if he was still that jerk and flunked me?