|photo credit: Facebook.com|
Life sometimes hits you hard!
The classroom was a mess (and stayed that way for hours) and I had to think of an alternative assignment for the rest of the day. But, it didn't really upset me. Middle school is always chaotic so you just go with the flow (no pun intended!)
However, I had to deal with an angry parent last week, and an angry student yesterday. I am an extremely empathetic person, so I tend to be affected by other people's emotions in an intense way. There is an awful lot of negative energy swirling around when people are upset, yelling, and throwing out accusations. I can handle all manner of chaos at school and in the classroom, but it just ruins my day when someone gets upset with me, even though I know (intellectually), that it has nothing to do with me.
When I was in graduate school I worked as a barista at Starbucks. (I can still make a mean coffee drink and smoothie!) One life lesson I learned while there was this; however other people treat me has absolutely nothing to do with who I am. They behave however they choose, and the only person I can control is ME. I still remember standing behind that coffee counter and being thunderstruck by the realization.
I am responsible for me, and only me. If someone else is rude to me, only I control how I respond. I could choose to be rude, or I could choose to be kind. I really have no way of knowing what the rude person is going through, do I?
Everyone goes through life's problems differently. Some of us have extra supports, such as great parents and supportive colleagues and administration (like I have). Other people have zero support, health issues, and a lot of stress in their lives - the catastrophe with the hallway flood may have ruined another art teacher's day, but not mine.
The angry student who pitched a fit, however, really got to me. Though I was upset, I went out to the hallway (where I sent the child to calm down) and made a concentrated effort to see things from the child's point of view. We talked, a better choice was made by the child, and the situation deescalated (for the time being.) For the rest of the day, though, I felt drained. It seemed as if all my energy went into the mental and emotional work of dealing with that one student. My patience with the rest of my classes was shortened, to say the least!
It turns out that the angry parent was extremely upset with other teachers at the school and happened to mix up the art teacher with the stories the child told. All the things I was accused of didn't really have anything to do with me or my class at all, and we got everything sorted out. Relationships with that family have improved greatly, thanks to a willingness to listen and understand.
There are plans being made to teach Steven Covey's "Seven Habits" next year at the middle school where I teach. One of these is, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." I am absolutely thrilled about this; I have wanted my school to incorporate this philosophy ever since I read that book.
It all boils down to the Golden Rule, actually. Everyone is different. All I can do is try really hard to see from another's point of view and understand, and hope that they will do the same for me.
Who am I to judge?
- Click here for more information about how to deal with disrespectful students.
- Tools For Teaching; Nasty Backtalk, by Fred Jones at Education World
- Tools For Teaching; Calm is Strength/Responding to Backtalk, by Fred Jones at Education World
- smartclassroommanagement.com, by Michael Linsin, a series of articles about how to deal with the difficult student
- How To Keep Your Cool, by Michael Linsin11 Reasons Why You Should Never, Ever Lose Your Cool, by Michael LinsinSmile, Breathe Easy, and Don't Let the Stress Get To You, by Michael Linsin
article by Mrs. Anna Nichols