Shaddup Already!


Maybe. . .

. . .my classroom management isn't as much of a weakness as I thought.

I've been holding my classes in the library for the past two days. I wanted the kids to be able to check out books and I didn't want to haul myself back and forth from my classroom to the media center. So I asked for an overhead and stayed there.

Another teacher, we'll call her Ms. Crabby-Pants (CP for short), brought her students in at the end of each period.

Oy vay!

There were several explosive verbal exchanges per period. I kept looking to CP for some respect for the kids. Seriously, I'm not sure I would respect her authority if I were in her class and I was a goody-two-shoes in my school days.

Of course this teacher complains about everything. And I mean everything. It's insane and I try really hard not to be in the same room with her.

Back to the story. I'm pretty bad about allowing myself to be dragged into arguments, which is self-defeating. However, I recognize this and will often extricate myself from an argument before it goes too far.

CP continuously argued with students. I must have heard "If you don't do blank, I'm writing a referral on you" at least 3 times each class period. Keep in mind that she was only in the library for the last 10 minutes of class.

So the kids were disrespectful toward her and her rules. But like I said, I didn't see much respect coming from her either.

After the second class, CP came up to me and engaged me in conversation (can you say ack!):
CP: You teach 6th grade?
Me: Yes.
CP: Lucky.
Me: Yeah, I also have some pre-IB, which has been a great experience.
CP: I wish I had your classes.

My first reaction was to take it as an off-handed compliment and a commentary on the "ease" of teaching 6th graders. Then I started thinking about it.

Granted, I have never taught 8th grade, but I did intern with 7th graders (she also "teaches" 7th). Frankly, I don't like the 8th grade attitude, but I worked hard to get my classes where they are behavior wise. I don't just walk into class and have every eye on me and every student paying complete and total attention.

I spend all school year builing a substantial rapport with my students. They know that I can be fun, am human and, most importantly, I will RESPECT them.

I tell the kids all the time that you have to give respect to get respect, but I don't believe that 100%. I believe that to be the best person I can be, I must respect everyone. Yes, I slip, but I try to give respect. Not all of my students respect me, but they can expect me to respect them. Mostly because many of them need to be taught how to show respect.

I try very hard not to shout at students in front of everyone. I try very hard not to discuss things that may embarrass a student where other students can hear. I don't feel like I need to tear them down in order to "discipline" them. That's punishment and humiliation, not discipline. And when I slip up, I APOLOGIZE.

Yes, I apologize to students. How can I expect them to work on taking responsibility for their actions if I can't do it myself? So many teachers shudder at the thought of an apology to a student. I don't think they should think twice about it--you screw up, you ask for forgiveness. Plain and simple, just because they're children doesn't mean they aren't people.

I'm not sure what my classes would be like if I had 8th graders, but what I do know is that when I discipline 8th graders in the hall respectfully, I get at least a modicum of respect in return. I also know that the kids I had as 6th graders still show me a great deal of respect when they turn into evil, head-spinning, pea-soup vomiting 8th graders. That must count for something, right?

So don't come to me and tell me that you wish you had my students. You would have them for an hour and they would turn on you. Just like your students have. CP, it ain't your students, it's you.

Just as an aside story--CP brought one class in and one her kids went up to say hi to one of mine. Well, this student (mine) is constantly in trouble because he can't control his mouth. So he took my advice and sat by himself so he wouldn't be tempted to talk during silent reading.

I went up to CP's student, M, and calmly explained that N was sitting there because he wanted to keep out of trouble and do his work. M was very respectful to me, apologized and said he would leave N alone--which he did.

I called CP over and complimented her student to her. M caught me talking to CP and got a panicked look on his face. I knew he thought I was getting after him about his saying hi to N. Meanwhile, CP is telling me what a good kid M is. She said that he gets out of hand, but settles right down when you ask him to.

This was huge. CP said something nice about a student. I watched CP walk away and mentally willed her to go talk to M and share the compliment I had paid him. He needed to hear it from her. But she didn't, she walked away.

I couldn't stand the scared look anymore, so I walked over the M and told him he wasn't in trouble, I was actually complimenting him to CP. He was so relieved. I saw him later and just had to tell him all the good things CP said about him. It's obvious that she doesn't tell him this stuff. What would be so wrong about letting him know?

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