That is a humbling thought.
Many people see teachers as super-heroes. If this image is accurate, then my cape got a hole last week.
Without giving too many details, I was verbally attacked by a group of students.
I was in the middle of working with them through a difficult text, and they were not doing their part in the learning process. Because of their behavior, I stopped teaching and had a conversation about the importance of learning, graduating high school, and finding a good job in order to support themselves. I told them it starts in sixth grade.
I am sure many of us have had similar conversations at some point with our students.
Sadly, they took my words, twisted them, and spit them out with a "strong dislike" for me, teachers, and school in general. They became enraged and took that rage out on me.
The next day, I talked with the dean of students, and I requested that no suspensions be given. However, I assured him I would stand by the consequences they thought would be best.
Later that day, a few students came in and said they owed me a thank you for not getting them suspended. Another one asked why I would do that.
A third one, who was not involved in the incident but is a student in the class, quietly replied, "Because she is nice."
I didn't do it because I am nice. I did it because after much thinking, I felt it was the right thing to do.
- I want them to know they have a voice, but that doesn't mean their voice needs to be disrespectful or full of hate. Suspending them would only send a message that their words don't matter to me. I want them to know they have a voice in my classroom.
- I know suspending them would not lead to the results I want. I want a community of learners who listen to each other, who question perspectives, who discuss problems, and who collaborate and work together to find solutions. Suspending them would not get me those results; it would only feed the anger.
I know that I need to learn from this experience as much as they do. Reflecting back on that day, I have questions of my own and answers to find. Why do they dislike school so much? What can I do to teach them how to handle disagreements? How do I show them to use their voice in a positive way? How do I rebuild those relationships? How can I get them to understand that literacy is the key to opening up their world to all that is possible?
But the most important question I have from all of this is where do we go from here? I have a three day weekend to think about how I will handle things on Tuesday afternoon.
Yes, my cape got a hole last week, but thankfully, I know how to sew. I will wrap that thread up in resilience, compassion, and respect. And hopefully, we will patch that hole up together.