Location: Texas, United States

I am a teacher with 33 years experience in public education. The purpose of this web log is to critically examine the present state of education in our great country and, particularly, in Texas.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A short object lesson

I have written before about the need for respect in dealing with kids. Like people of all ages, young people during the period of early adolescence want to be treated with respect. This is a simple concept. Today, I worked at a middle school as a substitute. I was assigned to the class of an excellent teacher who had been called away suddenly. When I arrived, the class could be heard several doors down the hall. When I entered the room an aide exchanged places with a look of relief.

The scene was the usual middle school chaos that can occur when kids are within three weeks of the end of school and their regular (and excellent) teacher is gone. Three boys were up pushing each other larking around - having fun. Two students were in the back listening to their cd players. Girls were loudly talking. Some girls were putting on makeup or adjusting their hair in mirrors. A couple of kids were sitting in their desks staring off into space in the 13th year trance.

I walked across the room to the teachers desk to put down my gear. After placing my laptop pack on the desk I turned and walked to the front of the room. I stopped in front of the class just looking at them with what I hoped was a neutral expression. I held up my hand in the "attention" gesture commonly practiced at this school. One girl and one boy started yelling for quiet at the top of their lungs. Another boy came and stood beside me doing a really good imitation of me by holding up his hand in the same way and saying "quiet class, quiet".

I turned my head slowly and pinned him with my best sinister glare. I said quietly "excuse me, may I continue" in my most neutral voice. Then I stared at him is what I hoped was a neutral expression. With bravado consistent with his age and stage of development he replied, "don't get all up dog, yo". I motioned to his chair. He did a very exagerated bow that drew a few giggles. I smiled back at him. He sat down. I bowed in a grand fashion and said "thank you so much, sir", paused a few beats and added the word "yo". That drew laughter. I said "I need everyone looking at me for a moment". I waited probably 20 seconds in silence. The class gradually, over the next minute or so, turned and settled down.

In a moment I said "I have only one rule; I am going to treat you with complete respect.... and I expect the same courtesy." One last student said something that I didn't fully understand to which I responded "excuse me". As soon as the kids became quiet I said "o.k. let me check roll. I am going to try to pronounce your name correctly, but if I don't please forgive me. I didn't learn to even spell my name until I was in the fourth grade." Giggles around the room... I checked the roll verbally. When I finished I said "now I need a good volunteer to take the roll down for me". Twelve hands went up. I picked a girl who had been sitting quietly during the start of class. I then explained the lesson, got the kids started and then circulated around until the kids were well on their way. There wasnt a problem the rest of the 90 minute class. I managed to teach quite a bit during the progress of the period. They kids responded so well. I was so proud of them.

A few days earlier, I was at the high school. While there I had a chance to visit with an old friend who had done a survey for the administration. One of the things the a young man said was "I want my teachers to stop yelling and sceaming at everyone". Another kid said "I want my teachers to teach".

I started my career 32 years ago yelling, barking orders and talking kids into corners from which there was no escape. I will never forget the day my supervisor took me out, bought a six pack of beer and drank it with me. That day he told me to always remember that every child was the apple of someones eye, the most precious of all things to them. I have never forgotten that statement.

As I write this I am listening to one of the great songs currently out. The song is called "Simple" by k.d. Lang. (yes,she uses lower case). With your permission k.d., the most touching line of this work of art says:

Love will not elude you .... love is simple;
Love will not elude us ..... love is simple;
Love is a philosophy..... it's simple;

Teaching with love is a philosophy.... it's simple. Teaching with respect is a's simple. It's simple. Love gathers love.
The fruit of showing love and respect is receiving love and respect. Kids are not the enemy to be crushed under our feet. They need the same things we all need - love, respect, encouragement, freedom from ridicule, and a good example.

If love is your philosophy, the kids will make teaching what you want it to be. Love will not elude you. Returned respect will not elude you. It's simple.


Blogger BT said...

Betty Tesh here with a few hints for new Teachers...

You're going to be a great teacher. You've got knowledge, enthusiasm, desire, motivation. What you don't have is experience.

And experience makes the difference between a potentially great teacher and a comfortably great teacher.

We've got over 68 combined years of experience to share, which is what we've done in...

"The Handy-Dandy Desktop Mentor."

No esoteric teaching methods. No field studies or carefully calibrated experiments. Just down-to-earth, helpful hints and suggestions to help you survive your first (few) years as a teacher.

We warn you about common pitfalls, give suggestions for getting along with fellow teachers, toss out a few classroom management techniques, offer advice on dealing with parents, and share secrets on organizing some of that "stuff" you've suddenly acquired.

If what you want is dull, dry treatise on pedagogy, or if you need a heavy meal of ibids and op.cits laced with quotes from learned professors of education, this book's not for you. It's quick and easy reading, a bit light-hearted, but as serious as an air strike about helping you bet the teacher you know you were meant to be.

A handbook for initially licensed, novice and beginning teachers that shares classroom management ideas, tips for getting along with educational personnel, suggestions for dealing with parents, and advice that good mentoring
teachers share for success in the classroom, written with humor by experienced educators.

As a new teacher, you won’t be doing battle with a supreme Evil like Sauron or traveling into the Cracks of Doom like Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, but like those two Hobbits, you are ‘expected to find a way...’ (Book IV, Chpt. 3) A way to make learning fun, but keep control of the classroom; a way to reach thirty different children with thirty different learning styles, a way to teach whole-heartedly while fielding a barrage of forms, procedures, expectations and instructions.

"The Handy-Dandy Desktop Mentor." is available at my site for new Teachers.

3:02 AM  
Blogger paymaster said...

Hello Blogger,

After reading your blog "A short object lesson", I believe you will find the wages information on my site about Jobs With Best Wages to be very helpful.

To give you an idea of our wide range, some of the recent searches that found our site included ...

Postsecondary Religion Teachers Wages
Postsecondary Physics Teachers Wages
Postsecondary Political Socience Teachers Wages
Postsecondary Teachers Wages
Preschool Teachers Wages
Postsecondary Psychology Teachers Wages
Postsecondary Recreation & Fitness Studies Teachers Wages
Secondary School Teachers Wages.

We have hundreds of "must read" articles on wages and careers and many other topics in our Top Career Wages site.

Kind Regards

8:52 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home