It is Friday evening. There are things I need to do. Right now I am not doing them. I am sitting a window away from my children. Victoria is helping Thad complete an assignment that is late–which is causing his grade to dip into a letter of the alphabet that is unacceptable. It involves copying–not his forte–not his favorite thing–and not something even worthwhile quite honestly. Alas, it needs to be done.
What I love is that my kids are together–on my front porch. Victoria is taking phone shots of the page that Thad needs to copy–she is reading the words to him while he writes them down. He has tracking issues (as in if he looks at a line of writing, then looks over at his paper to copy it down, he can’t find his place where he was before without starting at the beginning and going ALL the way back through). It’s not so fun. But he can’t play Minecraft until it’s done, so he’s getting it done.
Poppy is walking back and forth on the porch railing. It has grown overcast outside. I am already in my nightgown. I am glad it is the weekend.
It has been a busy week, and I capped it off today by making two mothers angry because I was reprimanding their children, my students, for being rude and disrespectful. To me. It is not the in your face rude and disrespectful that I get a lot of–it is the silent but deadly disrespect. Much like it’s greater know sbd counter part, it doesn’t arrive with a loud, rude noise. It creeps up insidiously, and by the time you realize it’s attacking your space, it’s too late to get away.
Their behavior is very much like that. Their behavior stinks. They are smart/good-looking/pretty/fashionable/fairly well-off/talented/athletic/popular students. They are also very much convinced that they are on an equal playing field with me. That because they are all of the above, they can and do have an equal say in what happens in my classroom–that their intelligence or social standing merits a say in whether they want to follow my rules or not. That if what they have to say is funny enough, or snarky enough, or will entertain their very small, well chosen group of friends, then it’s okay for them to sally forth. That if they don’t feel they need the particular directions or instructions I am giving, that they can get up to take care of some incredibly important task like throwing away a gum wrapper or getting hand sanitizer. Never mind that I don’t fight the gum battle or that I bought the hand sanitizer with my own money.
Current methodology and research insists that the space in which I teach should no longer be referred to as MY classroom. To make students buy in to what I have to say–to make them feel comfortable and welcomed and empowered with ownership, I should refer to it as OUR classroom. They do, quite often, have a say regarding what happens there. I am a teacher who believes in choice. I often refer to “our class.” I quite frequently let them choose their own seats, but I reserve the right to move them if they can’t choose wisely or behave. I quite frequently give a choice of activity but reserve the right to assign tasks as I see fit. I have been known to, as today, pass out Jolly Ranchers and Peppermints just because I think it might be nice for them to have a little sugar while they complete their exceptionally long, district given reading test, but I hold to the school policy of nothing but water in the room and no food in the hallways. And I find that the students who have this sbd behavior are already quite empowered enough.
As far as the room goes, well I may be old-fashioned, but the room is mine. I am held responsible for what is said, taught, and allowed to go on in it. I set the tone and the rules. I can put it to a vote or have dominion. I try to pick my battles. I say nothing at all about electronics in the hallways (where they aren’t supposed to be) or gum (old school) or cursing in the hallways (too prevalent to determine who actually said it in a sea of children) or dress code violations as they pass by (because nothing is, for the most part, done when I send them to have it taken care of), I house enough supplies in my room to run a Wal-Mart because expecting them to procure their own only causes unnecessary delay, but for all that I put up with on a daily basis, rude and disrespectful behavior to me or anyone else–acting as though someone’s time and abilities are nothing–that I take issue with. Lots of slack is cut. Second chances are given frequently. But expectations are clear. Not only that, but I really feel like the 90% who do what they are told get just as sick of the silent but deadly behavior as I do.
The sun just broke through the clouds. Victoria and Thad are still on the porch. Thad is laughing so hard at something she said or did or showed him that he can barely breathe. Time to start the weekend and leave the dust of the school week behind. Until next Monday. :)