Post 6: I overreacted, I engaged-I’m human and have feelings.

It’s hard to stay emotionally constant, especially with middle school students, though I try really hard to do so. My student (we’ll call her Kay) is an emotional child, who struggles to trust adults, but we generally have a semi-descenti-ish relationship. Today, I engaged. I overreacted because it’s tiring to be an emotional punching bag for 12 year olds. It wasn’t my best performance and I could have handled it so much better.

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Tell ’em Channing!

My students were working on some practice problems that they needed blank scantrons for. I asked multiple times if anyone else needed one. I gave a bubble sheet to anyone who raised their hand. Made it clear I would only address silent hands. I walked around and assisted students and reminded others to get back on track. One of my students called out my name. I gestured raising my hand to let her know why I wasn’t walking over to her. She didn’t call me over again.

This episode took about 3-4 minutes towards the end of class. At the end of the period, I had students collect the work and a student (let’s call her Kay) grumbled and mumbled under her breath. “Can’t finish my work because no one gave me a scantron.” I went over to her desk with a scantron and put it on her desk…and she responded with a tone.

-Kay: “I got one cuz I had to get one myself from the back.”

-Me: (somewhat passive aggressively): I’m sorry you didn’t hear me TWICE when I asked who needs one and sorry you weren’t paying attention to raise your hand when you needed it, but your tone is completely out of line and uncalled for.

-Kay: I was calling you over and well you didn’t listen.

-Me: Again, not really appreciating how you’re speaking to me, especially considering I asked anyone who didn’t have one to raise their hand. (While she’s still talking over me.)

I don’t know why I kept bringing that up…it’s silly. I’m pretty sure she didn’t hear me and wasn’t paying attention, but reflecting back, not really worth holding over her head at this point. She needed a scantron and was pissed that I didn’t give one to her when she called out to get one. Understanding that she can get very emotional over stuff like this, it would have been so much easier on my sanity to let her huff and puff under her breath at her seat and then checking in with her towards the end of the day…but no. I engaged, because I’m human and have feelings.

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-Me: I’m no longer having this back and forth with you. You’ve always been honest with me about feeling disrespected by your teachers and now I’m feeling that from you. We need to spend some time together, I’ll see you in detention…

I walk away…

-Kay: These teachers always …something, something, something <yelling at me from across the room…

-Me: and now you’re yelling right at me…we’re done. We’ll talk later.

-Kay: <still yelling across the room> Because you walked away while I was still talking to you…

I gathered my things and walk over to my next class. Half way through the period, I see her at my door and she asks to speak to me. My current class was working independently, so I agree to speak to her while standing at the door.

-Kay: Sorry about my reaction. I didn’t really mean to offend you. I didn’t hear you earlier.

-Me: I really appreciate that, but can we agree that you over reacted to not having a scantron?

-Kay: Yes. I overreacted.

-Me: I did too…our back and forth wasn’t really helpful or necessary. We still need to spend some time together so this doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for detention, but since we both overreacted we might need some space to to cool off before we talk about this. So how about we talk at lunch tomorrow instead of during after school detention?

-Kay: Okay. (Smiles)

We shake hands and part ways.

Till tomorrow…

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5 thoughts on “Post 6: I overreacted, I engaged-I’m human and have feelings.

  1. Claire Verti

    We are human with feelings. And I think it’s good for kids to see this.

    I think the thing that they also need to see from us, which you did here, was to accept their apology, acknowledge when we made a mistake, and even apologize for our own actions. I remember being frustrated as a kid when adults were so intent on being “right” that they never acknowledged when they were in the wrong.

    How else will they learn to acknowledge their mistakes, apologize, and come to a resolution with another unless we model this behavior ourselves?

    (I’m writing this thinking of my 3rd period class last year… The group of students you get once every 5 years or so that tests your patience and resolve and makes you question teaching… I know I had some moments of feeling I regretted upon reflection, that I would then apologize for. That class was a challenge. )

    It’s easy to beat yourself up about these kinds of incidents. When you zoom out, you will see that you are teaching her that you care enough about her to make things right. That’s more important than the content we teach.

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing that! This year my group of students are like the one group in 5 years. I’m really glad that we were able to touch base and that she initiated that because tbh I wasn’t ready to speak to her again. So I’m glad we can sort of start fresh tomorrow and move past today.

  2. Pingback: Post 7: Impulsive? Yes. Jerks? No. – My Mathscape

  3. I think the fact that you two were able to have that conversation with mutual apologies means you have done a good job with building a strong rapport with your students. That strong rapport can survive a bad day here and there. Good job!

  4. And … thanks for writing about it. That’s brave. It helps the rest of us when we know others are going through it too. We all have moments we’re not proud of. Hopefully, we reflect on them and learn from them.

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