ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 27, October 15, 2007
Today I disappointed myself. In several incidents, I spoke without thinking -- impulsively and unconstructively. I was reactive instead of proactive. I used coarseness instead of gentleness. They weren’t major incidents, and my offense, in most people’s eyes, was probably minor and hardly worth mentioning, but to me my behavior was strictly second-rate.
In one instance, as I was talking with some students at one side of the room while collecting papers, I turned and saw two boys whispering and giggling across the room. With nary a thought, I spoke brusquely to them, asking them to stop in a tone that seemed unnecessarily harsh to me. Even as I was speaking to them, I knew I was a bit out of control. My temper had gotten the best of me. The boys knew it, too. They looked at me like they couldn’t believe their easygoing English teacher had raised his voice to them. We went back to work in a minute, and it may be that the boys and the class quickly forgot about it. I didn’t, though – and I won’t for some time. I behaved in a brash and mindless manner – to me, a major sin for a teacher. My cardinal rule in teaching is that I must maintain thoughtful control over myself at all times. I must be gentle rather than abrupt, mellow rather than fearsome. I must be strong with my students when they misbehave, but my strength must come from an authoritative quietness rather than an unrestrained abrasiveness.
I broke my own rule today, and I’m mad at myself for it.