For the first time this school year, I had to raise my voice at my students. It happened on a Thursday during sixth period, around 1:40 p.m. If you’re not a teacher, you might not understand why it’s that big of a deal. And depending on your perspective of teachers or your attitude toward kids these days, you might think that’s a normal occurrence in the modern classroom. So, what’s the big deal, Ms. Green?
But it is a big deal. At least to me it is.
My day usually clicks along with minimal outbursts from me or my students. I normally make it through the day without a single rise in my blood pressure or an increase in the volume of my voice. So, when I have to morph into someone I naturally am not, it’s a memorable moment.
A few of my boys just would not get a grip. Our class was paralyzed into dysfunction because they were being impossible. Not sure if it was a full moon or they had too much sugar at lunch or the Irma days off made them a little stir crazy, but these boys were being difficult to the point that the only way I could even get their attention was to raise my voice. Since that doesn’t happen very often, they were startled. I was, too, to be honest.
But there we were. Complete silence. Stuck in this awkward moment when no one knew exactly what to do.
So, I proceeded to offer my freshmen a mini lesson on the expectations of proper behavior in high school. I turned to one of my most challenging students and asked, “Why couldn’t you simply do what I asked?” He erupted in a rant of his innocence, placing blame on the other kids. So, I said, “There’s a good example. Instead of talking back, couldn’t you just respond, ‘Ok, Ms. Green?’ That would have been more respectful.” Then momma entered the conversation. “My momma told me to speak when I’m spoken to.”
I’d like to tell you I obeyed the advice of mentors and heeded the lessons I learned in my education classes that have taught me not to engage students in debate, but I felt compelled to change his perception of respect and proper responses. I knew I would never win him over. Our perspectives were vastly different and deeply ingrained.
The interaction made me think about the important influence of perceptions (the way we regard or understand things) and perspectives (a frame of mind toward something). The event made me think of two worth noting.
One is the frame of mind society has developed toward teachers: many do not grasp the love and devotion, passion and pursuit teachers have toward our students – all of them. Not just the well-behaved or the high-achieving. All of them. That’s why having to redirect our students hurts our hearts. Teachers deserve a shift in our perspectives, a realignment and reframing that correctly portrays our teachers as relentless lovers of kids who, above all else, desire success for our children.
The second is our children’s misconstrued perceptions of the world, life, and interpersonal relationships built from reality television, music videos, missing parents, video games, fast food, and the internet. The classroom becomes a clash of two cultures, and teachers are challenged to love despite differences, care regardless of reciprocation, and teach in spite of it all.
Sometimes teachers must deal with difficulty, and sometimes that requires raising their voices. But doing so mirrors the level of intensity they have for their students. The perceptions and perspectives concerning our teachers should shift in that direction. So, it is a big deal.