When it comes to teaching, there are many what if” factors and scenerios, but the one things that I’ve found contstant is this: students are going to surprise you. Today I was reading this blog about what happens when a student expresses romantic interested in us. I’ve done a previous blog post about this before (aptley named “Hot for Teacher”) so I’d like to instead focus on the teacher’s reaction. She writes,
” I am not as good as handling innapropriate situations as I thought I was. I am so hesitant to exert any authority that I just let this moment of these kids being total dorks slide right by. And I get scared that I will not be as good at enforcing the rules that I want in my classroom (no calling people gay or retarded, no bullying, etc etc) if I couldn’t even stop this”.
Her thoughts pretty much mirror mine from yesterday. I had a similar situation in my middle school class. It was nearing the end of class and I had one students who wanted to write one more idea on our group poster board (normally I wouldn’t discourage this awesome enthusiasm but we really had to move on). So I told him that there was no more room and we had to get back to the classroom. The student said to me, “There’s this amazing thing about paper, you can flip it over”. Now I can tell you what I should have done. I should addressed the problem, told him that it was disrespectful and hold my authority over these kids.
I’d like to say that’s what I did, but I didn’t.
Instead, I laughed. I laughed because it was just so snarky and cleverly phrased. I laughed because it was something that I would’ve said. However, looking back I think I might’ve just let this student undermine me. As a teacher, I’m supposed to be an authority figure but I don’t think I acted like one. What happens when I get into my classroom and I can’t be as strict as I should? Will the students just end up walking all over me?
I can say now that when I’m teaching my middle schoolers, I’ve never felt out of control. Sure the students aren’t completely silent but I’m okay with that. They seem to be engaged and get their work done, and aside from this little incident they all seem to respect me. However, I worry that this will turn into a future problem. I’m trying so hard to walk the fine line between authority figure and having personal connections with these kids and I’m worried that I may be tiping too far one way.
So my question is this: am I not being a strict enough authority figure or is my teaching style just different than what I’ve been seeing?
Comments much appreciated,