I’m a pretty good teacher. My kids learn stuff. I always have stickers in my room. And candy for my fellow teachers. I attend meetings and rarely pretend to go to the bathroom just so I can play a quick round of Trivia Crack. I answer emails. I participate in every dress-up day. But, of course, I have a few bad habits.
One is checking work emails all the time when not actually at work. I have it set up on my phone and I really need to undo that. Okay I just went and did that. Wow. I have agency. So . . . adult of me. I’m looking around the room for someone to high five me on this. No one here but a mosquito. I will high-five that guy into his next life. Bad habit number two is spending too much time Pinterest-ing cool things to do in my class and then not doing any of them. Part of it is being limited by the lack of resources here, part of it is getting distracted by the next shiny thing on Pinterest.
This is not actually a problem specific to teacher projects. It’s pretty much all Pinterest. In my defense, I’ve never successfully done anything from Pinterest. I think we all remember the cheese ball incident of 2012.
Bad habit number three is my relationship with my dry erase markers. I hoard the pretty colors from students, because they don’t know how to properly angle the point against the board, instead smashing it down, forever ruining that beautiful slant. I only let them use the red, green, blue, and black markers from the generic packs, and I keep all pinks and teals and yellows for myself. And also . . . I throw markers. Some teachers yell. Some teachers say “I’ll wait.” Some teachers go creepy silent and you wish they would just yell. My reaction is to throw dry erase markers. I lose the battle against whatever part of my brain houses self-control and better judgment and throw a marker really hard. I have only hit one student on accident as he was coming in the door, and another one on purpose because I had HAD IT. But it was a lob, not a throw, and it was an orange marker, which are the nicest, softest of all colored markers. And he should have been looking at me and not talking (Still sorry, Arta!)
The thing is, kids think it is hilarious that I would throw a marker at them. Luckily, I’ve had pretty good kids and never had to deal with too much discipline. Which is good because all my “punishments” are ineffective. Once I made a student stand in the corner with his nose to the wall (I had just reread Anne of Green Gables) (and it was because he was an A’s fan and said the Giants were terrible) and all the other kids thought it was awesome and started requesting it whenever they got in trouble. You know what does make most kids behave? Taking away recess. Last week it took me 15 minutes to calm down a student who had to read during recess because he had only completed 30% of his assigned reading. All my “this way you will remember and not forget next week and never miss recess again,” “your teacher is just trying to teach you a lesson” did NOTHING to soothe him. “THIS IS INJUSTICE!” he cried, over and over, hot tears in his eyes, face red, sweating with anger. I couldn’t help myself. “NO. THIS IS DISCIPLINE. CHILD SLAVERY IS INJUSTICE. GREEDY CORPORATIONS GETTING TAX BREAKS IS INJUSTICE. UNEQUAL PAY FOR WOMEN’S EQUAL WORK IS INJUSTICE.” He did not know what I was talking about, as he is an English learner and my words were unfamiliar. Also he’s the kind of kid who can’t hear anything when he’s upset. I tamped my politics back down and went back to soothing teacher voice, with only the occasional eye twitch, wondering how a kid could know the word “injustice” but never remember to use any form of punctuation.
I had a kind of difficult week….I’d chalk it up to Spring Fever, but we’re actually headed into Autumn here in Brazil. But the kids are nuts, and we have a zillion teacher activities (if you think holding conferences is tough, try doing it when you can’t speak the language!) and new things we’re supposed to be integrating, when really beginning in April you kind of go into survivor mode with the kids, cajoling them into learning and behaving. But every low has a high. Since I told one of my students that it’s illegal in some countries to talk about Jesus, all he wants to talk about is how he’s going to make money one day to buy Bibles to take them to China and tell people about God. So freaking cute. Also Seghs had sent me some of my favorite candy, and I’m loving the new phrases included.
And some of my babies are learning their ABC’s. We were walking down the hallway singing it, and a couple of older kids stopped and said in all seriousness – “Miss, I know that song, too!” like it was something you learned from the radio, and so we all stopped and sang it. And I got to take a nap in the hammock today. Even when this is hard, things are good. Tchau! come visit, please.