It’s probably not necessary to empathize every moment of the day with the kids I teach. There are frequent occasions where it’s appropriate, such as when they are sad or hurt. But most of the time, they rely on me for direction and something resembling wisdom.
Looking at them, it is easy to imagine what they’re thinking. When they have Chromebooks, most are following instructions to read. A few will stray but these renegades are easily identified because they will repeatedly glance at me to make certain I haven’t detected what’s on their screens that are thirty feet away. Of course, I can’t tell if they are transgressing but I can confirm by walking the room to see if they change screens.
Sometimes obedience gets too much. One student thinks: I’ll bet I can get some distraction from the classwork if I get up, walk across the room and get two tissues from the box.” There’s another box of tissues about three feet from this student but that wouldn’t require as much time.
This group is a bit too young to sneak over to forbidden sites. We would like to think that the school districts would block explicit content. But last year, a sixth grader delivered a Chromebook displaying porn that, “…someone else had been watching.” By no means would I have argued with him.
The best way to spook kids is to busily write in a journal. Curious ones will wonder what I’m writing and why I’m writing it. Guilty ones will ask if I’m recording notes to their teacher about troublesome kids. And the brave ones will ask to see what I’ve written, although none of them can read cursive.
Happily, this is a well-behaved and courteous group. Third grade is typically too young for cell phone addiction or gang activity.
Although I’m not allowed to have physical contact of any kind, at least ten former students hug me in the hallway. And all students, my class or otherwise, will return my smile. Kids just don’t like change and I represent change. Because I get that I conform to the routine, acknowledge all accomplishments and never ask them to be other than third graders. Shalom.