I messed up. I had taught the day's lesson and had assigned the practice classwork. The assignment was a light one to be sure, but it was Friday after a long week of tests and standardized assessments. I wanted the kids to practice the new concept within the class-time and enjoy their weekend without homework. The week had been a frustrating one for both me and my students. Despite my expectation at the beginning of the week that we were going to accomplish a lot, it was speckled with lessons that crashed to the ground.
I was sick and had felt miserable all week and as I tried to pack up my planning materials a little earlier than normal so that I could get home quickly and climb into my sweats, the kids were working at their desks with very few questions coming my way. Whether due to the results of the latest assessment, where most of the class failed, or to the fact that progress reports were going home that day; the kids were on-task, quiet, and working diligently. For a while at least.
My rolling suitcase, that requires me to use the elevator twice a week on Mondays and Fridays was about half way full, when I realized that the weekly newsletters and basketball sign-up sheets had not been placed in the kids' mailboxes. I pulled my self out of my chair that rarely sees use during class time and headed to the mailboxes to fulfill the last minute need. My back was turned to the class and I was enjoying the Genesis and Elton John playlist that was popular with my 6th graders this week, when a crash of desks and chairs erupted behind me. Apparently, a game of tag had been started by two of my boys coming from or heading back from the pencil sharpener, trash can, or whatever took them on their disruptive journey.
My switch got flipped. The switch that turns off my usual caring, patient, understanding of how difficult things can be in a sixth grade body. The two boys were immediately directed to go to behind my desk where I knew that the grade book was still up from when I was updating the day's assignments. I wanted to show the boys the results of their efforts quarter to date, and that they could ill-afford to be running around in our accelerated and challenge mathematics class.
The message I got from one of the boys during the weekend made me realize that I got it wrong. Instead of building up, I chose a method of communication that tore down. I broke my own rule to not create a negative life moment in these kids' lives. They have enough of those events in their lives and I refuse to add any more negativity to the balance. I failed to honor that commitment.
I'll apologize. I'll tell that boy how much he means to me. I'll tell him that I hope he forgives me and will soon trust me again to be a partner in his success. I hope I can get it right for the rest of the year.
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