Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The "Don't You Dare" Teacher Stare

I think I've finally perfected it. You know, that little thing teachers do to discourage bad behavior. I've decided to call it my "Teacher Stare." Or, more correctly, my "Don't You Dare Teacher Stare."

This week is a milestone for me, I guess. I know it sounds funny, but I'm finally getting used to being in charge. I'm finally fighting the good fight in high school--ha.

I still find the thought of me being in charge laughable. For some reason, I just don't "feel" like a big, authoritative figure where I work. I try telling myself I need to inflate my ego, and that "you're the teacher, and it's your job to keep kids in line." But what line am I keeping them in? If I'm too strict, they'll hate my guts and dream up ways to make my life miserable, yet if I'm too easy going, they'll take advantage of me. It's hard to find the balance and figure out when to say something and when not to.

For instance, there is a general rule that there are no laptops allowed at lunch. Before I would pray that someone else would notice a kid online before I did, because I would dread approaching and correcting anyone. Most of the time, because they'd just ignore me anyway. So, the other day, I got the guts to approach this one girl and tell her to put her laptop away. She did instantly, and I felt all strong and noble inside, until I got back to my table--one of the teachers heard her say, "Well the principal said I could" in a snide and irritated manner that stole my pride and reminded me that I never knew anything.

I was just upholding the rules, and I don't regret saying what I said, but I still felt like a douche. I just don't like telling people what to do. I don't mind instructing, helping, and giving advice and suggestions, choices even. But I don't like being the "bad guy" and I guess that's just the novice in me talking.

That novice is slowly fading. I hope.

The other day, I was in a classroom where several teachers seem to be "walked upon." One student was ever so annoyingly playing with a doorknob. Now, I wish I could say "doorknob" was some new tech-toy, or even a code-name for something he was doing, but no. He was actually sitting at his desk spinning a door knob around for whatever reason.

The teacher said, "put it away" and turned to write something on the board. So, of course, he covered it with his hands and, as he got away with this murder, he smiled to his friends. Usually I'd have looked away, but I was irritated that day, so I told him to put it in his backpack. So, of course, he hid it in his sleeve.

"Put it in your back pack, or I am going to take it." I told him with my DYD Teacher Stare. He slowly put it away. Victory!

Just yesterday, when I was leaving the teacher's bathroom, I noticed a new face lurking around the door. Now, the teacher bathroom doors are locked, and I'm always concerned to make sure a locked door closes before I leave it--because they are locked for a reason, and that reason is to keep kids out.

Well, out of the corner of my eye, I see the kid run over to the door and I turn to see he's keeping it open with his foot. I turned back and said blankly, "Foot out." and he listened. "Thanks." I said and walked away, both laughing and confident.

While I'm enjoying this newfound power, I don't want it to go to my head. I see a lot of teachers abusing their "in charge" abilities, and I don't want to be one of them. I guess that's because I see the equations they create.

Bad student = stereotyped = disrespected and disregarded by teacher = problems


bad student + a chance + boundaries and clear guidelines + an understanding person = an opportunity to become a good student.

I want to be that teacher. The one that fixes problems and doesn't just ignorantly create new ones. I've seen the injustices, first hand. I remember them from when I was in school, and now that I work in a school, I see them again. I watch these kids get in trouble for the stupidest things, and I hate it.

When I was doing my student teaching, there was this one little kid I used to think was the Tazmanian devil. He'd run all over the place and drive everybody nuts. Zooming here, there, and everywhere. Never in his seat, always living life in fast-forward mode. I took a real interest in him, because I knew he was going to (more likely than not) fall through the cracks. He was going to keep getting in trouble, and start to be discouraged, and worse.

So I started watching him and began noticing what a wonderful kid he was. When someone ALL THE WAY across the room said, "I need a pencil." He would drop everything he was doing, grab a pencil, and run across the room to deliver it. It was amazing to watch his "Craziness" in that light, because he was doing good things, but getting into trouble for them. I hated that.

I'm not saying that all teachers are jerks, and anyone who says that they are are, in fact, the jerks. I can't think of a harder profession than education. You think your 9-5 office job is bad? Unless you have, or work with kids, you probably don't know what it's like waking up before 7AM. And you think meeting a deadline is rough? Try getting 20+ indifferent students to care to get a project done on time. The work teachers do today is amazing, and that is why it is such a tragedy to have students "fall through the cracks," but in reality, there is only so much ONE PERSON can do.

Teachers are amazing, and I'm not just biased, I'm informed. I see the sacrifices they make, each and every day to better the lives of others. How many people can say their jobs do that? How many people sacrifice their own talents and time for a small check and a classroom of germs and attitudes.

It seems I've gone off on another rant; I'll quit while I'm ahead!

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