THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (haroldshawjr.com)
This is one of those nights when this usually upbeat and positive teacher is simply tired. Not physically tired, but mentally tired, drained, empty, caput are all words that describe how I feel tonight. The tank is empty, I don’t feel too great and just want to whine.
It has been a loooooonnnnngggg week. Today was tougher than usual, my first block was so obnoxious that I had to resort to acting being “pissed” (no other word is appropriate) at them. They just wouldn’t settle in, were extremely rude and doing what teen-agers do best – trying to annoy adults. 🙂 I tried several different strategies that were totally ignored or flat out didn’t work.
So I walked over to the door, gave my EdTech a wink and a smile, and slammed the door–hard — so hard that it echoed and a couple of other teachers stopped and looked in for a second. When I turned around you could have heard a pin drop.
I stomped back in and began to talk in a very low and slow voice describing the behaviors that I was observing, a the lack of respect that we were receiving and how they were cheating themselves of the opportunity to take charge of their own education.
I didn’t raise my voice at all, but my EdTech told me later that I was very stern, very stern…and that no one did not give me their attention while I was talking. They sat there very quietly watched me and listened to everything that said very closely.
In this class, surprisingly almost everyone one of the students are beginning to like to read (this is a special education English class for children who’s behaviors have not allowed them to be successful in regular classroom – so liking reading was not their “thing” back in October). So thinking quickly on my feet, where everything else had failed, I told everyone to get out a reading book. I told them I was too angry to talk anymore or attempt the lesson that I had planned but that I still wanted them to do something productive, so they needed to read for 10 minutes while I regained my composure (which I really had not lost).
Everyone immediately got their books and started reading, no side conversations, snide remarks or anything else which had been the problems earlier. I reinforced that reading was not a punishment but an opportunity for me stop being angry and that I needed some time to calm down. After about 5 minutes I went around the room and did my usual thing when they are reading – asking what was going on in the book etc.
During this whole act, I wasn’t angry, but I did want to get their attention and show them how their negative behaviors could effect other people or teachers. Towards the end of the time they were reading, I wrote the following assignment on the board:
Notice that paragraph is spelled wrong – I also have a “thing” where if the students catch Mr. Shaw’s mistakes they get a point and one student got a “point” for that.
After the 10 minutes of reading I gave them the assignment and told them that I wanted them to start it in class and that for the first time this year, I let them know that I was assigning them homework. This really got their attention, because they all know that I don’t believe in homework.
I think that sometimes we need to appropriately show children how to react when we are angry. Even though it was the “actor” in me, it did show these students that someone can be angry and not yell, scream, swear, hit or hurt other people. I hope this was a lesson in life for these students, but more than likely a week from now they will have forgotten Mr. Shaw getting “pissed” and just do what teenagers do.
I know that I will probably catch some flack for this from some people out here, but at the time it was the correct thing to do and to me was a teachable moment that I took advantage of. It certainly was better than trying to force my way through a lesson that wasn’t working and sending more than half the class to a detention lunch or after school detention which I consider rather useless most of the time.
But I can hope that just one of these students will remember that that “old mean and rotten Mr. Shaw” got mad at us one day and didn’t yell, scream or hurt anyone, he stopped and took some time to regain his composure. I can only hope that – one day when one of them gets angry at someone that they do what I did today – walk away and take some time to calm down.
I do wonder though, if any of them will remember this in their end of year reflection that they will do? It will be interesting to see if any do remember this day.
So I am looking forward to reading their responses and from the initial work that was being done in class, many of them wrote a lot more than a paragraph.
Did you make a difference today? How?
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.