Think back to the start of your teaching career and surely you can remember some "rookie moves." What were yours?
My biggest flaw as a newbie was making threats as a form of classroom management without following through on them. An example would be, "You're all going to stay in and miss recess if you don't stop talking." But they all went out for recess because I would realize that it wasn't a fair consequence.
I knew this was something I needed to work on and I did.
Which only meant that my flaw was that I would still make stupid threats and then think, "Damn, now I need to sit here with these kids during recess." But, at least I had mastered the important "if I say it, I mean it" thing.
Time has passed and classroom management is now my greatest strength as a teacher.
However, once in a while we all regress.
And I did.
We're putting on a play in a few weeks. It's basically Charlotte's Web, but with lots of cute twists. Who doesn't love dancing farm animals? One of the things that I've added in is a singing/dancing duet to Michael Buble's, "Just Haven't Met You Yet" (when Charlotte speaks to Wilbur in the darkness the night before they meet). Cute, huh?
I burned a CD of our soundtrack and was playing it in the classroom while the kids illustrated their books. That song came on. The girls squealed in delight and the boys collectively groaned. We've talked all year about when it's appropriate to share an opinion and when it is not. We talk about respecting other people's likes even if they are different from your own.
I gently reminded them of this.
But it continued.
Maybe it was the heat. (read over 90 degrees in the classroom)
Maybe it was the hunger. (read 3 minutes before lunch)
Maybe it was the time of year. (read "the natives are restless and summer vacation can't come soon enough).
But, I regressed right back into the first year teacher version of myself. She was a dedicated gal who worked hard and meant well, but she had so much to learn.
And I suddenly heard an irrational threat spew from my mouth.
It was perhaps the craziest of all the irrational threats that I had ever bestowed upon a classroom.
"If anyone else makes a rude comment about the music that some people are obviously enjoying then...
(wait for it....)
EVERYONE WILL STAY IN FROM RECESS AND DO NOTHING BUT SIT AND LISTEN TO MICHAEL BUBLE OVER AND OVER AGAIN!"
I threatened to make a class of 8/9 year olds spend the only 15 minutes they get to themselves during the course of a school day sitting indoors listening to the jazzy vocal stylings on Mr. Michael Buble.
Luckily, I have perfected the "if I say it then I mean it" reputation so nobody dared to take the chance that my irrational claim would become their recess destiny. Which is good because how the heck would I have explained that silly punishment to parents or administration? I couldn't even justify it to myself seconds after I said it.
I wonder when my Teacher of the Year award will arrive?