In fact, no matter what else happens, you’ll be proud of certain students some day. For many of them, you can already tell.
On becoming a teacher
But if you had known certain other things about what happens in many of our classrooms, you’d think twice about becoming a teacher.
And what about the response to those things OUTSIDE the classroom? If you had known about THAT, sometimes you feel you wouldn’t have thought about teaching even once.
Looking in classrooms
I mean, how are you supposed to feel about a situation like this? You walk into the classroom, wait for the children to settle down, give some very simple instructions for them to get their materials and open their books, and there’s this little group of three who haven’t gotten past the door as yet. You tell them to go to their seats.
They ignore you.
You continue with a few more words of instructions to the class, while moving in the space of the three who seem to have a hearing problem. You stand half-a-meter away from them and tell them softly to go to their seats and begin with their work.
They’re still ignoring you.
Its not as if they stop talking, look at you, wait ’til you’ve finished, then continue talking. They don’t even acknowledge your presence. You’ve cut in the middle of their little discussion, or so you thought, and they continued with that discussion as if you were not even in the room. There’s no way they could have missed seeing you. You’re standing right there in front of them and all their eyes are wide open. And they can hear because their own voices are at about the same level as yours. But just in case, you raise your voice just a little… just to make sure.
Nothing. You’re pretty sure now they’re ignoring you on purpose.
You fight down the irritation welling up inside you, ignore the puff of smoke you’re almost sure is starting to escape from your ear, and change your mind about rapping one of them on the forehead with the chalk-duster you just balled up in your fists. You chose instead to let the workers in the class get your attention. You tell the three to leave your class.
The @#$%+ little bastards are still ignoring you!
and that was the first 10 minutes of one of your better classes on one of your better days! By the end of that day you were drained. Almost every single class you teach takes so much energy out of you just to make the students behave like normal human beings.
Domino effect on the private and professional lives of teachers
It’s even started to affect your family. You’re so tired its hard to give your own children at home the time and attention THEY need from you. But you know what is the most shocking part of all?
No one seems to care. You and others like you have been complaining that the situation in classrooms have changed drastically from what it was in your own school-day. Standardized test results are plummetting. Employers are complaining. The children are different. They bring a different set of values than was the norm in the society even among youths just a short generation ago.
A good quarter of the students in a typical class in certain streams bring severe social and emotional problems. It takes extreme responses just to get their attention, much less get their cooperation when it comes to doing their school-work, and their numbers in each class seems to be on the rise every year.
On too many days to mention. School… your work-place… a place for children.. have become a dangerous battleground, complete with long, wicked-looking edged tools and brass-knuckles. No one hears your cry for help. The reaction of management, of the educational system, of the political system and it seems like your entire community, is the same as those three children in the classroom that day.
And its toll on you is just as frustrating. You’ve even started thinking about other things to do for a living before it robs your sanity, your peace-of-mind, or even your life.
Light at the end of the tunnel?
Was it supposed to be like this?
This is 2012! We need a robust, well-thought-out solution to the problem of working in a system designed to teach the student population of the 1970’s.
Next week, a small working committee responsible for the planning and implementation of a school-wide program goes to work in earnest.
So many students are coming with “social-emotional deficits.” In a nutshell, the plan therefore to bolster the emotional intelligence of students by giving them what they’re not getting at home. We can no longer do to our student-body what the rest of the community is doing to us. We have to address the problem ourselves instead of waiting for someone else to play their proper roles in our students’ lives.
Anything else, is to ignore the reality that without addressing those emotional concerns, learning just doesn’t happen, and teaching is an impossible task.
The formula for success?
Behavior Management + Conflict resolution = Emotional Intelligence
At least, that’s the formula we’re working on. Whether we achieve success or not depends largely on how well our management system is, and how well we teach conflict resolution skills.
That’s where teachers come in.
We need teachers to be actively engaged on this blog as we plan, as we work, as we roll out the program in stages. We can’t do it alone. We need you to have an ongoing discussion about it right here using this medium. That discussion will keep us honest, motivated, and focused.
So start telling us what you think. Does the little classroom vignette we described strike you as familiar? Do you have positive feelings about our plans to tackle such a huge problem? Do you wish for us to give you more details next week? Keep the discussion going via the comments below.
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