“Never was monarch better feared and loved
Than is your majesty: there’s not, I think, a subject
That sits in heart-grief and uneasiness
Under the sweet shade of your government.”
-- Shakespeare, Henry V
I am not a monarch in my classroom, and it’s certainly not a kingdom, just a quiet room for a small collection of kids and a sometimes shaky teacher, but still, something spoke to me in these words from Shakespeare when I read them yesterday. In a sense, I guess I am a monarch – a man who makes the rules for dozens of students and demands deference and obedience from them – and there is, you might say, an atmosphere of majesty in my room. I often speak to the students about the importance of dignity in our behavior during class – dignity and stateliness and even a sort of solemnity. We are special people performing special duties – teaching and learning – and thus we are obliged to behave in distinctive and occasionally solemn ways. There’s always room for comedy in my classes, but never silliness, for silliness and stateliness don’t stand side by side. In this dignified atmosphere, then, I am what could be called the “king”, and, as such, I suppose my students fear me, to some extent, – but I hope it’s a fear that’s fused with love. I am the leader, yes, and I should be, but I hope I am a leader who seems both fearsome and affectionate. I am the captain in my classroom, but I hope I bring as much care and kindness to my leadership as dominance and strictness. The students must work under my supervision, but I hope they feel like they’re under a stern but “sweet shade” provided by a leader who feels lucky to be with them.