Want to silence a room of freshmen? “When don’t I?!?!” you ask. Simply stand at attention at the front of the room and announce that thanks to their horrid and disrespectful behavior, they, yes, they, the freshmen, have succeeded in getting them AND you, their teacher, kicked out of the Institute building. Then after about 5 seconds of pure blissful silence (the awkward, letting-this-information-sink-in silence), silence their protests and unbelieving exclamations by handing each of them a letter on official school letter head with the official signature of the school principal stating where their room is going to be located (somewhere in the school building) starting next week. Hear their panic as you announce to them that their parents are also getting a letter in the mail about this classroom change. “Does the letter to the parents tell them why we are moving?!?” your freshman might ask. Keep your face stoney as you reply that you’re not sure. (It won’t; it’s the same letter they are holding in their hand which simply says you are moving to the school building and please make note of your new room number. But, man, it’s fun to see them panic and sweat.)

Then feel a nearly irresistible urge to hug two of those sweet freshmen who, after hearing this announcement and receiving their letter, look at you and quietly and sincerely say, “We’re sorry, Mrs. E.” Two, mind you, out of around 150. In front of their class. Two who, personally and individually, were not at fault for the change but recognize the fault of others in their classroom. Others who should be apologizing but aren’t.

Get a sigh of satisfaction when you hear your students gasp when, after reading the letter, they realize that you, their teacher, will not have her own classroom any more but rather six (OK, five because we are in one room twice) different classrooms, one for each period, because there IS no extra classroom in the school so you have to borrow rooms that are empty during a teacher’s prep period. Your sigh of satisfaction comes because your students realize, “That stinks, Mrs. E,” and you simply reply, “Yes, it does,” and they realize that it’s their fault you have to limit your classroom to a cart and a box. And now they feel bad. Resist the urge to cackle until after their gone. They don’t deserve to see you smile today.

Spend after school that day packing up your cupboards. Resist the urge to curse as you are in a good building.

Get out of teacher planning day (read: “learning a new software that is neat and possibly helpful but not today” and entering grades for the end of the first term for those . . . fine . . . students) because you have to move and find a place for the stuff that was your classroom. Feel overwhelming gratitude for those fantastic fellow teachers who are giving up their room to you for a period a day. Try not to show your terror as you hope and pray those . . . students . . . of yours will behave better in that classroom than the other one.

Set up new seating charts for each room. Resist the urge to simply cross some of the names out.

Now feel the shock that goes through the room as, on day one in your new classroom, you make the students get out a clean sheet of paper and tell them they are all going to write a letter of apology to the Institute director and his staff. Be sure to tell them the date and the proper form of address to the director. Tell them use words such as “disruptive” and “disrespectful,” and remind them just which of their (collective) actions resulted in this move. Tell them that even if they think they were not at fault (you personally know who those students are, but you won’t mention it here), they represent the entire freshman student body of the school and the Institute administration’s opinion of them is low right now. Resist the urge to blow up at the sassy students who have the gall to ask, “Are you kidding?” It will suffice to glare at them and yell, “Do I look like I’m kidding? Write the letter!” Make said letter worth 50 points. Give zeros to those students who simply write “I’m sorry” 15 times because it fills the required 1/2 page (“This isn’t a letter. What are you sorry for?” “I don’t know.” Breathe one . . now raise your voice level to, oh, an 8. “I just told you what you should be sorry for. Write one.” Give them a zero again because they think it’s funny to write, “Sorry for breathing.” Put it away because you realize they don’t care. Later, go home and think just what you can do and say to this . . . child . . . to help keep sanity in the classroom and your mind because you are appalled to realize that you don’t want to care, either. And that is not the type of teacher you are. Give a zero to the otherwise decent student who shocks you by writing to the directors to “get with the times” because people swear now and it’s normal so get over it. Don’t swear. It’s unseemly. And makes you feel worse.

Love the fact you are now surrounded and encouraged by fantastic teachers who have (seemingly) made it their sole purpose to help you succeed with this year. Watch and listen to them to figure out just what exactly it is they do in their classroom that works marvelously and think how you can use what they’ve got.

Enjoy the fact that your seniors talk to you more in the school building.

Spend your drive-time and home time thinking just what in the world you can possibly do now to help these students learn and understand and SHOW respect to you and each other because your temper, when it is lost, is ugly and less than appropriate (some parents apparently object to the word “stupid” being used in the classroom; also, we can’t throw things in the classroom.)

Feel disappointed because these few problem students are not letting you be the teacher that you know you can and want to be because they are not ready for it.

Go home and learn the difference between acting so that your students like you and respect you. Because you thought you had been doing the latter. Sigh.

Think of those students who are fantastic and DO like you and your class. Drink up their approval and respect because that is what gets you through every day and what makes you look forward to that class.

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