The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 13 2012

Be the Bad Guy, Love the Bad Guy

Day 7: Funny what some confidence will do to you.

Picture This: It’s 8:15 am, the start of first period, you’re headed to the 2nd floor teacher’s lounge for your banana, when you see a 6th grade class looking like a hot mess in the hallway. Half of the kids on one side of the hall, half on the other. Loud, fidgety, and with more than a little pushing and shoving going on. The kind of sight that makes the expectations-anal teacher visibly twitch.

Last year, I know exactly what I would have done. Run away. I had no desire to be the bad guy. Frankly, I’m not sure I could have been the bad guy, even if I’d wanted to.

This is what happened today. I gave a countdown, said I needed silence and 24 eyes facing forward in three seconds. Some redirection of twirling boys later, all’s good. Next, I asked who was frustrated about waiting in the halls. Hands go up, meaning I guessed well. While I said I understood, I asked them what I expected from them, as the oldest and most mature students in the school. Ashley raises her hand and clearly says for the whole line, “That we can handle it.” With that, the door to their next class opens, and I watch a silent line of students stream past.

This is not me patting myself on the back for holding kids to high expectations … although, admittedly, I am proud of that. What’s more important to me is that when I walked away, I realized I wasn’t scared to do the right thing. I didn’t put positive relationships or a “cool” teacher persona above what I wanted to see, and what they deserved to demonstrate to their peers. And you know what? I’m pretty sure my kids respect me even more for that.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
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