Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Teaching Journal

Day 133, Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Today Mr. Salsich the Blurter came back to my class, for what I hope is his last visit ever. As I was busy taking the scholars through a lesson, I noticed a boy doodling in his notebook, and, with hardly a moment’s thought, I snapped at him. “Billy, sit up and pay attention,” I said, with little civility and a lot of severity. I instantly knew it was a mistake. Yes, the boy was doodling, but he also may well have been listening attentively to what I was saying. By blurting out my reproof in such an ungracious way for an offense that he may not have been guilty of, I succeeded only in bringing guilt on myself. I acted no more maturely than a kid insulting another kid at recess. I was ashamed of my irresponsible action, and within a minute or two, I apologized to the boy. Strangely, something good may have come from my reckless behavior. Because it happened in front of a class, and because the scholars heard my apology, perhaps they’ll understand better the simple fact that teachers can sometimes act like children. More importantly, they might come to a realization that a sincere apology can be a strong and dignified thing to do – that admitting your mistake (and making no excuses about it) is one way to grow and get strong as a person.

* * * * * * *

The scholars seemed exceptionally sleepy and apathetic in the morning classes. It was almost as if they had all made a vow of silence before the class, or as if a sleeping gas had been spread among the kids. Heads were sagging and eyes were slowly shutting. My questions were met with a stone wall of silence, and any interest I succeeded in stirring up instantly settled back down the way dust does. Ho-hum.

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