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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