I enjoy a lively class. My teaching disposition is interactive and high energy; thus, the vision I saw that day was quite rare and rather surprising. A student… rolling her eyes… feigning sleep… tuning me out! That never happens! I ignored her behavior for the time being, then asked her to stay after class. In only about fifteen seconds, I inquired as to her behavior then invited her to strive for a more positive attitude and come to class with a smile.
I hadn’t ever experienced that before. I didn’t know what to do. It was out of character for my classes, and certainly out of character for this girl. Though spunky, she had always been polite – but not that day. My gut desire was to intervene, to go put a stop to her demeaning behavior. Yet luckily, I caught myself before I took action. Surveying the rest of class, no one seemed to be affected by her rudeness. I also remembered that this was out of character for her. So, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, swallow my pride, and ignore her behavior.
I tell ya, it was hard. That stretched grin and false façade irked me worse than text message grammar! But I was good. “She’s just an eighth grader; I’m a grown adult. I can do this.” And by the end of class, I tricked my mind into believing her feigned optimism was genuine.
And the results? The next day, she was just fine. She came to class as normal, apparently having gotten her naughtiness out of her system. She has since been the same student she had been before: interactive, energetic, and polite. I can’t help but think how that might have turned out differently had I reacted on instinct. Damaged trust? Negative environment? Battle for power?
Yes, there are some behaviors that need intervention; we shouldn’t ignore everything. But I also believe that, when reacting, we can sometimes cause more harm than good. And as challenging as it can be to bite our tongue, often times patience is the best friend a teacher can have.