Monday, June 14, 2010

To be loved...

I had great teachers in my life. When I became a teacher I had to make a choice. Well, actually, i didn't have a choice, I just had to come to terms. I realized that there were two kinds of great teachers: the ones you loved and the ones you respected. Think back. How many of you can name a teacher that you hated at the time, but what you gained from them you wouldn't trade for anything? They had discipline and knowledge. There was no messing around on their watch. They had something to teach and you were going to learn. Think back. How many of you can name a teacher you loved? Teachers who you would stay up late for to do an assignment. Teachers who you wouldn't think of messing around on their watch because you wanted them to like you as much as you liked them. They had something they loved to teach that you wanted to love too, and so you learned.

I had to make my students love me. I didn't have a choice. I tried yelling, dirty looks, never smiling for the first three months, all the things you think will inspire good behavior and respect. Nope. Not for me. I remember when I made the choice. I quit acting like the teacher who had the period before me. It was in school suspension. She would sit at her desk and yell. The kids would immediately snap into shape. I tried it for a few weeks. I didn't like it and it wasn't working. I changed tactics. I started moving around the room and sitting with each kid for awhile to see what they were working on, ask them what was up and help them with something. I got to know them and could make assignments suited to their tastes when they ran out of work.

I will never forget one boy. He needed help with math. Okay, not my strong point. He was doing percentages and I kept drawing pictures and coloring things in. He told me I was a really good teacher. I didn't have the heart to tell him I couldn't figure it out without the pictures.

Two weeks later I walked in for my shift. The teacher before me was trying to physically drag this boy back into the classroom. I asked what was up and she said, "The principal is on her way, he is out of here." I went and put my stuff at the desk and then walked back to the doorway that he was clinging to. I looked him in the eye and said, "go sit at my desk." He immediately released his grip on the door and walked back to my desk. I followed and pulled out his folder. I found a Social Studies Test that had a grade of 7%. I asked him what it was? He just shrugged. I told him to get out his social studies book and write in all the correct answers. He said, "But I won't get any credit for that." I said, "I don't care, you should have done it right the first time." He said, "okay."

I met the principal at the door and said everything was fine. She left. He spent the entire period correcting his test without a peep. I will never forget him. I have no idea what happened to him. But he taught me a great lesson. Something about kids. Something about myself.

My oldest son has become a Tween overnight. I realize I am in the same position again. I need to be obeyed. It is my job to teach some lessons. Discipline is a must. But you know what, it is the same story again. What is it they say about the insane that try the same thing over and over hoping for a different result.

I do not inspire fear. I have learned I don't have the muscle to back up my threats anyway. I am not the only one who learned that lesson. I must be loved. They must think of me and say, "I want to love what she loves. I want her to love me as much as I love her." And so I get out from behind the desk and move around and spend some time finding out what they need and what they are working on and help where I can. Every day. Every day for the next ten years, so that if the time comes and they are stuck between a rock and a hard place and I say, "Come sit by me." They will drop their fighting stance and come.

It is not the only way. But like it or not, I think it is my way. So it may sound easy. I am not so sure. How does one accomplish to be loved? Ask me in twenty or twenty five years. Maybe I will have the answer.

1 comment:

  1. You've become the Monty Roberts of students -- you get them to 'join up!' Wonderful!!!!