“mrs. russ, they said you was mean”Posted: November 4, 2011
He looked genuinely dismayed. I couldn’t tell what made him more upset – the thought of a group of students thinking something seemingly contradictory about me, or the smile that ran across my face as he told me.
“I know,” I replied. “I have to be mean to their class.”
“Their class.” We all have it. The group of students who satan himself joined together to torment us for 180 school days. Yesterday it came to blows for me and “their class.” After sending one student to re-focus in another teacher’s classroom for the third time this week, I sent a second student to re-focus in a second teacher’s classroom. As I walked back into my room, I heard a crash. Somehow a third student’s desk ended up sideways on the floor. My only comfort in the situation was that when they saw my face, everything got quiet. Without saying a word I wrote their reading assignment on the board and used the last 20 minutes of class to organize my professional portfolio.
As we prepared for dismissal I addressed the events of the day. I told them how disappointed I was, and I apologized to the handful of students who come to class prepared each day and who respect my space, time, and plans. I explained that I don’t believe in book work, but I’m more than capable of assigning it every day until they can show me what they’re capable of handling.
They were quiet for the rest of the class, and that made me sad. Sure, they completed the assignment, and it was aligned to our curriculum. But isn’t it kind of creepy to walk into a room full of 12-and 13-year olds who are quiet and still? It’s just not developmentally sound. I get mean because they don’t let me follow my plans or be the teacher I want to be.
This morning one of them approached me in the hallway. It took him a moment to remember what he was there to say, then he pushed his glasses up on his face:
“Mrs. Russ, I finished my paper. You know, the one I wrote about you being my hero. I’ll show it to you this afternoon if you want.”
“I would love to see it.”
I did not feel like much of a hero.