Saturday, October 28, 2006

Words

A student was recounting to me her "horrible, awful, very bad day" of a few days ago and just generally venting about things. One incident that happened was that a counselor had given her a key to the teacher copy room to go retrieve something. Now at our school we have a variety of hall wanderers and kids skipping class and not being where they are supposed to be, so it's easy to get into the habit of treating every students you see outside of class during the day as someone who's "doing something wrong" since they're not in class. This student is not that type at all, but she got flustered when a teacher started giving her the 3rd degree about why she had a key and who's was it and what was she doing there. And I guess he said some off the cuff remarks to her.

As she was recounting this to me, she said, "you know, teachers should know the power of their words to students - whether they're good words or bad, they greatly affect us. Maybe you guys don't know how much".

It also helped remind me not to treat every student I see in the halls as "criminals". I've put on more of a concerned air (where are you supposed to be, sweetie?) as opposed to a police air (where's your pass!?!). This has led to some interesting short conversations with kids:

- my teacher kicked me out of class because I smiled and she thought I was being disrespectful.

- I was kicked out of TMC because I had my head down, and the teacher said, "Robert, put your head up", and I didn't respond because my name is not Robert, and the other kids laughed, and the teacher thought I was being fresh.

- I have to go to the school store to buy "female supplies" but I don't have money, and I can't find my sister, and the next period teacher won't let me be late because she's mean.

- (in response to my question of "what's so interesting to look at out there" to a boy who was in the halls just staring out the window at the lunch time crowd) "girls", he said bashfully.

4 comments:

  1. It is so interesting that we have such a difficult time giving students the benefit of the doubt. I wonder if students have noticed a change in their teachers' perceptions since the latest acts of school violence. It seems that teachers are much more cautious (or is it suspicious) since these events unfolded. There is a fine line between a well structured and organized school and a jail. I had to laugh (in a sad way) at the student (Robert's) story. I don't think that there is anything worse than a student realizing that a teacher has no idea who they are. This type of atmosphere has to affect student learning...

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  2. I definitely think you're right. Students (and I guess people in general) react and act differently depending on how they think you think of them. I know I don't do a good job of masking my frustration with certain behaviors, so I'm just glad that this year I don't have any real challenging kids on that front. ... or maybe I need to have more, for practice.

    Ms. Cookie

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