Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Big Lesson....

A few weeks ago I had trouble with a kid in elementary music class. My new plan for the year is to email parents when there is a problem (which has had mixed results). I explain to the parent what problem had occurred and invite them to work with me in getting the child back on track.

I have had a range of responses from a willingness to partner and a lack of response. One parent responded that they would work with me, but had noticed the student and I had a 'personality conflict.' I have to admit I was completely baffled by that comment. I thought perhaps the mother had misunderstood something because I don't have any personality conflicts, I just try to have an orderly classroom.

So, because I am who I am (the overwhelming need to get to the bottom of things), I asked the kid the next time he was in class. I said, "do we have a problem?" The fifth grade looked me in the eye, then stared at the floor, "Yes.....because, you know, we don't like each other." You could have knocked me over with a feather (though cliche, true). My messages about not blurting out and allowing others to talk were transformed in that kid into dislike.

I immediately cleared that up. Although I don't like his behavior, I have nothing but good feelings toward him. I explained that I need to keep the blurting down so that everyone has a chance to learn. He went back on his way to class, and I was left with these questions......How did this happen and how can I make sure this never happens again?

Anyone who has ever talked to me for very long knows that I love teaching and I love the kids....So, I need to find a way to have an orderly classroom and let them know that I care about them (even if I have to correct their behavior). I think I do a pretty good job of that, but there is obviously room for improvement with some kids.

The amazing thing is that now that the student knows I don't hate him, his behavior is vastly improved. This whole emailing parent plan has had at least one good outcome. 

1 comment:

Paul Bogush said...

"The amazing thing is that now that the student knows I don't hate him..." many kids come into a class each year with the baggage of previous years teachers "hating" them and assume that any interaction with the new teacher is driven by the same emotions.
If I had told my wife about an email like that, she would have asked "Good luck or bad luck?"
Wasn't it good luck that you found this out so early in the year or simply found this out at all!