I was planning on making Salvadoran Quesadilla for you all tomorrow. It’s actually a sweet bread similar in texture to something between cornbread and cheesecake (it sounds weird, I know), made with rice flour and different types of cheeses. It sounds odd if you’ve never had it, but it is absolutely delocious (yes, I do mean delocious). Unfortunately, I think I got food poisoning today and I can’t really stand for long, much less tolerate the smell of cheese tonight. I’m so sorry!!!
Instead of baking bread, I got to catch up with my sister about her kindergarten class and we got onto the topic of “a healthy dose of shame;” a topic that I feel 301d has mixed feelings about. She was out sick the last two days and, while the first day was fine, her students just about lost their minds yesterday. They were playing freeze-tag in the classroom, they were rolling around on the floor, a teacher from next door had to come over and tell them that she had had enough. My sister’s classroom was so loud that the teacher next door could not teach. She even called my sister to give her a heads up about it. Now, her 5-year olds love her. But today, they were not feeling the love from her. After debriefing me on how crazy the class had been, and how crazy they continued to act even with her back in the classroom, I asked her how she felt about that idea of “a healthy dose of shame” and this is what she told me: If you’re students know your expectations, and if you know that they can meet them, then there is no reason why they should not receive consequences when they fail to meet them. She added that at the same time, if they are meeting and exceeding your expectations, there is no reason why they should not be rewarded for doing so. When I asked her about parents (she does have parents who call each time their student pulls a card or has a note sent home; sometimes with simple inquiries about what happened, sometimes to bail their child out of trouble) she replied that during her student teaching, dealing with parents was her biggest fear. After falling flat on her face several times and being walked all over by numerous parents, she told me that as long as you, the teacher, stay consistant with both the positive and negative consequences that are given in your classroom, it’s just about sticking to your guns and letting the parents know that their child has not been singled out or coerced into acting naughty. Sometimes they accept that, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes the smartest thing to do may be to just say goodbye to the parent and speak with your principal in case the parent chooses to go that above you. If you know you have been fair and you know you have good reason for your actions, she said, then the interactions with parents don’t seem like a fight anymore. Being on the same page with your teammates and administrators, she said, can be invaluable as a resource when dealing with parents.
Another thing that my sister and I talked about was the value of failure. I have expressed to her on many occasions that I worry about losing control in the classroom. I had the idea that she had never felt that; I thought that because she always seemed so cool and confident when working with children, she had never lost control in the classroom. She told me about one day during her student teaching when she felt like she might as well not have been in the classroom. She had so little control over the students that they didn’t seem to notice that she was even there. Way to assuage my fears, Diana. She also told me that there were many days like that and that there is no way to prepare a plan of action when that happens. Again, way to make me feel better. At the end of this conversation, however, she told me that the reason she feels so confident in her teaching and so natural being in her classroom is that she didn’t let herself stay upset when she lost control. She had to make herself think about what happened that day and how things got so out of control and make sure that she wouldn’t make the same mistakes going forward. It seems like common sense, but honestly, my nightmares about teaching sometimes outweigh my dreams about it and it feels good to hear that the bad days can lead to the good if you allow them to.