Two days ago it began to rain. I’m so thankful for that, and for the fact that it is still raining, pretty hard. We are all so thirsty here, so worried about a summer without water. Forget the Pipeline project to send our Northern California water to Southern California. There’s not enough to send, so for the moment that’s not an issue. Or in my mind it isn’t. There are probably those for whom this is just a momentary setback. But whatever. I’m flummoxed today by something else entirely, and I’m not exactly sure why I haven’t been able to just let it go.
Yesterday I yelled at a kid in my class. I yelled. I am not a yeller. Not ever a yeller, but yesterday I let it rip. I was “redirecting” (n a normal voice) an obnoxious student for the umpteenth time that day, telling him again that it was time to sit down and collect his work to hand in, knowing that for some reason this week he actually had work to hand in. He didn’t want to return to his seat, and believed that I hadn’t given him a paper he needed, so he began yelling at me that I hadn’t given him this paper, which I distinctly recalled placing on his desk earlier. He waved his arms in the air and yelled, “Well then where is it? Show it to me!”
Usually I just continue the redirect, but yesterday I’d had enough. I yelled “Out! Get out! You will not disrespect me by yelling at me!” And I made him leave. Normally removing him would let me calm down and I’d go get him in a few minutes, but not this time. After about ten minutes, just before the bell rang I asked another student to take his backpack to him. He came back into the room and stood there with his backpack on his shoulder and I kicked him out again. “I did not give you permission to be in here. Go back outside.” The bell rang a minute later, and I went to write a referral for this guy. As I did so, I realized that I’d have to suspend him from class for the maximum two days and I’d have to call his parents. I did so, announcing in clear strong Spanish on the message machine that I am over his behavior. No gushy politeness in this call. Just the facts.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You hope all public school teachers are not like me right now. And of course they aren’t. Even I’m not, usually. In fact, people usually say I ‘m too nice. But I’m a little worried about myself right now. I can’t quite figure out if I’ve lost my touch as a teacher or if I just have a really difficult class. I do believe that they are unusually troublesome, but what is my role in it? Have I somehow created this, or is it more because only a few of the boys can actually read and the rest find school completely irrelevant? Or something like that.
Earlier today I had the Apple TV on and photos from my iPhoto were scrolling across the screen, old photos, many of them of former students. As I watched them go by, I realized that none of the students in my difficult seventh grade class like me as much as the ones did who are now Freshmen in high school. I had a class like this a few years ago. We just never quite bonded, for some reason. The behavior issues were not as severe as this year, but they were there, and for some reason we just didn’t connect.
Then today a friend who teaches near Washington D.C. told me that last year she had a really hard year and this one is great. And it reminded me that we all have rough times sometimes, and we can’t always pinpoint the reason for it. We have tough school years, and tough not school years. Just life years. And we have good years as well.
For some reason that makes me feel better. Like maybe this is just a rough patch. Maybe I need some aromatherapy in my classroom for all of us. Something soothing. Maybe we need some soft music, liberally applied. Group meditation. And I’m not even kidding. I can say unequivocally that I need all of that, so they just might need it as well. I know that the kids who are being held hostage to this behavior would like a change almost as much as I do. And the repeat offenders? I think they probably need it too. Surely we are all exhausted by this bumpy situation.
I apologize for writing what seems to me like yet another one of those posts. I promise that my next post will have a great strategy for writing summaries. I just need to take a photo of it so you can get the gist of it. I’ll try not to trouble you with this behavior stuff again for a while. I promise. Thanks for tolerating my venting. Or maybe you clicked off at “I yelled,” and that’s okay too. I would rather not have had to tell about it. So yeah. Keeping it real here.