Sunday, June 09, 2013


I'm a bit behind in my comic reading, as this Foxtrot comic by Bill Amend, is from June 2nd. (I only manage to read the Sunday comics and I can still fall weeks behind.)

I've noticed my own interactions with students lately and they resemble this panel. One child goofing off during language arts block might get a quick, gentle reminder to focus on becoming a better reader and writer while another student doing the exact same thing might get moved off on their own with a stern reprimand.

One child pushing another in line gets a brief eye contact reminder to stop while another child gets to walk the rest of the way holding my hand.

One child defiantly ignoring another teacher gets a one-on-one talk about respect, with time to share their thoughts and work through the issue, while another one gets removed from the group without any discussion.

When I'm not in the moment of these situations I want to always react in the first way. I want to always give gentle reminders, give children second, third, fourth chances, give them the benefit of the doubt, and give them a chance to talk through the problem.

In the moment, however, their reputations (not from others but based on my year with them) weigh too heavily. I respond quite differently to children who have been defiant to other teachers again and again, to children who regularly push others in line, and to children who are often not focused on becoming better readers and writers. 

Stepping back I understand why I respond in the way that I do. The problem is, I don't think it's helpful. I think most children, no matter their reputation, will respond better to gentle, kind reminders and redirections and will be more thoughtful in the future if they are given the opportunity to talk through an issue rather than simply being removed.

As this post percolated in my drafts folder, this video came across my facebook stream.

The power of reputation, being one you have earned or one that has been thrust upon you based on race, ethnicity, geographic location, gender, whatever, is powerful.

I don't have an answer to this. I try to be hyper-aware of how I respond to students, regardless of their reputation, and still struggle with it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Very thought provoking. I catch myself doing the same thing. I'm learning that sometimes I need to take a deep breath and pull out of the moment for a second. Then I can disconnect who the child is from what he's done and can react more appropriately.