Monday, May 10, 2004

Power

On Friday, I made a student cry. I wish I could say that it was because she is oversensitive or that I was having an unusually bad day or that it was all some kind of misunderstanding, but I can't. I did something pretty awful: I humiliated her.

I could tell she had no idea how to do the speed = distance/time problems that we were going over, so I asked her a question, hoping to start off easy and walk her through the problem. I wasn't asking her to solve anything, just to participate. So I tried to include her by asking her what the distance was, a number that was written right there on the board. She refused to answer and turned on her best I've-given-up-on-myself attitude.

That was when I should have backed off, offered her some extra support at another time. Instead, something misfired in my soul, and I kept at her, pointing out somewhat sarcastically that the answer was written right there on the board. She started to cry. I continued the lesson, moving on to another student for the answer. I already felt terrible about the whole incident, but I didn't want to extend the drama further.

During the next problem, I approached her quietly and walked her through it one-on-one. Then I apologized for being mean to her, and sent her to the bathroom to wash her face. She didn't return for the rest of the period - I had to send another girl to rescue her. Later, as the students were at their lockers, I apologized again and offered to work with her at lunchtime. She agreed.

By today, she was smiling at me again and accepted my offer of lunchtime extra-help. She even volunteered to answer a question, got it right, and earned praise. Kids are resilient. She's also seen much worse in the schools she's attended and in her home. That in no way excuses my behavior, but it's true.

Perhaps more than other jobs, teaching asks one constantly to strive to become a better person, more kind, more generous of spirit, more supportive, more patient. I have considerable power, which I occasionally misuse. I try to be reflective about my role as an authority figure. I also try to apologize to those I hurt and to myself, and forgive myself when I am not the person or teacher I hope to be. Although I'd rather not hurt anyone - least of all children - I hope that my students learn something from my occasional apology for my own misbehavior. Maybe they see that an aspect of maturity is to think about one's own behavior and take responsibility for it and apologize or make amends when it is wrong. Maybe they see that even those in power can be wrong, and can own up to it and try to fix what can be fixed. (I don't think that happens often in the lives of poor students of color from the Bronx).

Or maybe this is all an elaborate rationalization to make myself feel a little less awful.

What do you think?

7 Comments:

Blogger TS said...

Nice Blog!!!   I thought I'd tell you about a site that will let give you places where
you can make extra cash! I made over $800 last month. Not bad for not doing much. Just put in your
zip code and up will pop up a list of places that are available. I live in a small area and found quite
a few. MAKE MONEY NOW

8:52 AM  
Blogger TS said...

Nice Blog!!!   I thought I'd tell you about a site that will let give you places where
you can make extra cash! I made over $800 last month. Not bad for not doing much. Just put in your
zip code and up will pop up a list of places that are available. I live in a small area and found quite
a few. MAKE MONEY NOW

9:05 AM  
Blogger Johnjon said...

Wow, I really like this one. I have a website that talks mostly about make money online business You should check it out sometime.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Swingin80 said...

Cool blog you have. I have a idea to make money related site. Check it out if you get a chance. The URL is idea to make money

1:36 AM  
Blogger Adult Personals said...

Hey i got here searching for cash crazy fast make ways
Your sites not too bad!

You got good rankings for them keywords cash crazy fast make ways

Check out my site
cash crazy fast make ways

11:39 PM  
Blogger Lucifer said...

Very cool blog you got! I just added you to my bookmarks!

I have a great article resource you might want to check out.

7:26 AM  
Blogger satxxkenn said...

Cool blog - Check out my site if you need help finding a good low interest credit card. Credit Cards

3:11 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home