rookie teacher mistake #279

thestandoffThat’s a rookie teacher me (almost 10 years ago) in the shorter hair.  That’s one of my students with the longer hair and inexplicably short forearms, seated at her desk.  We had a standoff in just this position for 12 minutes, because a published expert told me it would work.  I’d followed this expert’s instructions for weeks, and this prescribed posture was the last step.  I’m not kidding.  What can I say?  I was a rookie, and I had a minimum of 19 voices in my head telling me how to manage my classroom.  This particular expert was being pushed by the school system in my beginning teacher seminars, and some of us had even been required to read his book in grad school.

[Are you so impressed with my 45 second drawing?  Did I mention I was a music major?]

For those excruciating twelve minutes, I silently stared into my student’s eyes, willing her to back down from her need to control the classroom with a loud voice and outrageous stunts.  For the first 90 seconds, the other 20+ kids looked on silently, too.  And then, they became a tornado around us.  The bell finally rang, and I don’t even remember what happened besides the other kids leaving.  Maybe I “wrote her up” and sent her to the principal.  Maybe I let her go out of shame.  It doesn’t really matter now, because I lost her and that entire class of kids.

Dear, sweet people, let love lead.  A sense of humor, a hug, and a simple “here’s the deal” conversation outside the classroom would have been so much more effective in that moment.  Don’t lose your sense of humor.  It’s usually followed by a growth of ugly pride, and you may become the punchline of someone else’s joke.

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9 thoughts on “rookie teacher mistake #279

  1. I believe in order to reach someone we can use neither our position nor tactics. You have to touch their soul in some manner. Even if you have to discipline you have to make sure your motive is clear that you want what is best for them. Love and attention and praise will get you places nothing else will. To really listen to someone and they knowing it is powerful too. Sometimes a whisper garners more attention than a shout.

  2. Hi Lauren, that is so true! Life in general just gets so stressful when you lose your humour and you let it get to you inside. I’ve learned that sometimes, a quiet, pleasant voice will work much better than the stern voice… or even silence. 😉

    By the way, in case you didn’t already know: on the home page of your blog, there is a big chunk of code at the bottom that starts “jQuery(document).ready(function() {…” and it goes on to the bottom. Maybe it’s a plug-in that you’re running? I’ll be happy to take a screenshot for you if it doesn’t show up on your browser. (I’m using FireFox, feel free to email me.) 🙂

  3. 12 MINUTES????????? That is kind of amazing. The endurance on both of your parts is pretty exceptional.

    I’m glad you stuck out the moments like this to become the teacher and parent that you are now. Because you’re pretty great. Let love lead. Always and amen.

    But don’t worry- this disciplinary technique is still probably better than me standing on chairs and shouting and threatening to toss kids out windows during that summer school program I taught that one year. Yeah, I was pretty good at that job. At least they all just assumed it was a joke. (And although I didn’t mean for it to be, they were TOTALLY RIGHT.)

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