Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle · Writing, editing, editorial, philosophy

Doing my job

Your behavior is disgusting and embarrassing. You should not be acting this way. And don’t bother telling me that you’re sorry. Show me.

These words emanated from the teacher in the classroom adjacent to mine. She then read a litany of mistakes and promised detention for the whole class, whether or not they were guilty of making noise or being inappropriate.

The noise wasn’t so bad. According to one student, she’s usually one of the nicest teachers in the school. But she never acknowledged me, my jurisdiction or my need for assistance.

Aren’t we role models in the down times as well as the up times? Why would we be surprised at animosity and belligerence on the playground when we dispense it to our kids?

Yes, there are times that merit discipline and a stern demeanor. But these are functioning, autonomous human beings who are worthy of respect, also during their worst moments.

Years of classroom management have taught that nothing happens while I’m presiding from the front desk. It’s only when I am walking through the student population that I am successful. It also involves my having the right response to being corrected for using the word “accountability.” The student advised that we may have used the word, “in your day,” but it’s not used now. She now knows what accountability means.

To be sure, patience is the most valuable asset in any classroom. In sixth grade, the problem is noise. In kindergarten, it’s trips to the bathroom (to goof off) and tattle tales. And in all grades between them, it’s cell phones, aggressiveness, issues at home and one hundred other causes.

My job is to guide, encourage, suggest, persuade, soothe and anything else that improves my students. None of those include character assassination or insult.

It seems to me that we will all receive enough negativity in our later lives without hearing it in elementary school. My preference is to discuss good choices and advantages of feeling positive about the way we interact with others.

Losing it is not an acceptable option for educators. Because one teacher doing so made my student cry, I hope that she rethinks her strategy or that I don’t encounter her again. Shalom.

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