The closer we get to Spring it seems like the shorter our fuses get and the more rambunctious and misbehaving our kids become.
As a classroom teacher I loved having "those kids". The ones that the teacher from the year before would warn you about. The ones who pushed every single button you have, and those you didn't even know you had. The ones who scream, who curse, who run, who say they hate you. Those are "my kids". Those are the ones I'm drawn to.
As teachers, we all have some of "those kids" in our class every year. What I've learned though is that often we can let our own emotions over take us and the way we interact with students.
Time and time again, I've watched a teacher get upset with a child over a choice the child made. The teacher would yell, or tell them they were a liar or loser, or send them out in the hall without another thought, or make them walk laps at recess, or sit at lunch detention, or more. But sometimes, the piece I've seen missing has been this....actually talking with the child.
We work with kids who don't know how to control their emotions. With kids who are taught at home that you scream back at someone when you're upset with them, that you shut down when someone is yelling at you so you can "hide" from the yelling, that you use your fists instead of your words, and more.
Oh how quickly we forget that. Yes, we teach them otherwise at school. We teach them school expectations. But they're children. Those lessons are never "one and done" or even "twenty and done" lessons. They are lessons we must teach again and again.
I worked with quite a few children this week in my office. And this week, every single child that was brought to me, I sat down with the, spoke in a calm and quiet voice, and asked them what happened. Asked them to tell me their story.
And do you know what some of them said?
- This morning my mom told me I was her stupid child. It made me so upset that all day I've been angry at everyone and can't figure out how not to be angry.
- He said something about my dad. My dad is in the hospital and I haven't seen him in 3 days, so when he said that, all I could see was red.
- Yes, I made a bad decisions, but when my teacher saw, she screamed at me and told me she was sick of my behavior and brought me up here. She didn't even give me a chance to tell her I was sorry and that I knew better and wasn't thinking.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Will kids frustrate us? Yes! Will they lie, manipulate, get angry, and disappoint us? HECK YES!
So what can we do? We only have on choice. We have to be the adult in the situation. We have to put our own emotions away and stop and talk to them. Not every poor choice from a child HAS to have a consequence. Many times you can talk to a child and see they understand their choice, and then move on with the day!
I mean, come on, look at who we the kids who have lunch detention and are walking laps at recess? If it's the same kids, it clearly isn't working as a consequence.
Will having a conversation with a child fix the problem overnight? No. But it's our jobs as educators to grow every part of a child. And getting angry at them and sending them straight to the office before you have even had an opportunity to calmly talks to them, destroys your relationship with that child because they see you as the one who's not really in charge, the office is.
Let's take time this week to stop and talk to our students.