Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How Am I Supposed to Know?

Aside from the typical, much addressed, difficulty of teaching to the individual student and working so hard to make sure that no one slips through the cracks, my most difficult challenge in teaching played out in my classroom today.

Since this is such a difficult part of teaching for me, I tend to be very very careful never to put myself (as a teacher) in this situation; sometimes, however, it cannot be avoided...

The number one most dangerous place a teacher can put herself in is... a power struggle.

I don't mean to shout out my qualities as a teacher, but I will state that I run a very well run classroom, I never ever have a problem (anymore) with classroom control, and my students are trained in, from the first day of school, to follow classroom rules, to accept the teacher as authority, and to follow certain classroom routines. They know good and well what I expect of them.

Just to give an example - I teach a low elementary grade, little girls. At this point in the year, I am able to leave my classroom for a few minutes and when I return my students will 99% of the time be doing what I left them doing. Rarely, if ever, will I come back to a class that is jumping off the walls.

These are things that help eliminate a possible power struggle before it even begins to arise.

BUT. Today was different.

Upon returning to the classroom after our morning recess, Leah* and Malky* both came to my desk and showed me a note that was scrawled on in a child's messy handwriting.

It read: "Leah is a maniac."

Malky, in her everlasting loyalty to her friend, solemnly told me

"Chanie did it."

Chanie vehemently denied the action saying

"I would never do such a thing!"

In fact, not only did Chanie deny writing the note, but so did every other one of my 26 students. They denied it so strongly that it seems to me that the note blew in from the window.

Picture this- twenty-six pairs of eyes staring at Morah. One of which is terribly hurt because she now knows that someone in the classroom hates her. I have no idea who wrote the note. They are all waiting to see what I am going to do.

On the one hand, I should leave the situation right now. If I probe further and am not successful in finding the culprit, I have entered a power struggle and lost. The absolute worst situation I can put myself in.

On the other hand, If I back out now, I will have one very upset student who will most probably hold a grudge against the accused (Chanie) whether or not Chanie actually wrote the letter. Knowing my class and knowing Leah in particular, I know that this grudge will not remain a grudge, it will turn into a fight at best and a full fledged classroom war at worst.

Neither situation is ideal, and neither situation is one that I would like to deal with in school. Both situations will involve me spending a good few hours on the phone with numerous parents, breaking up fights, etc. Sigh. It gives me headache to think about it.

What would you do?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

I have a student who is suffering. She is suffering physically, emotionally, and socially.

I wish I could tell her that her suffering is only temporary. I wish I could tell her that one day things will be different. But who am I to say such things? Who am I to promise her that one day her life will be joyful, that one day she will feel safe and secure? Is this really true, can I really vouch for such a promise?

All I can do is give her all my love, care, and attention. To use every ounce of my energy towards helping become proud of herself as a person, instead of embarrassed by what others have done to her.

And who knows. Maybe one day she will come to realize that she surpassed the childhood hardships that were laid heavily upon her, that she came ahead stronger, that she rose above.... Maybe there will be a light at the end of this young child's dark tunnel after all...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What'd I do? Turn into a Space Alien?

The general attitude that I have encountered since I got engaged has been

"Oh. You're engaged. You MUST be on a different planet."

Can I ask - is it illegal for a young woman who just got engaged to actually stay on planet earth? Because it seems like people are urging me to go for psychiactric testing, or maybe to the machanic, looks the engine on this spaceship that's supposed to take me to some far out lala land is malfunctioning.

Happy? You better believe I'm happy. Excited? Nervous? Terrified? Thrilled? Yeah yeah - all the "kallah" emotions (as if the Kallah owns them - no one else has a right y'know) - I am feeling, I just happen to be feeling on planet Earth, I'm trying to figure out why everyone thinks that this is just so off...

On another note- I keep thinking about you bloggy friends and about how nice it would be if we weren't anonymous and you guys would be able to dance at my wedding... (and no I would NEVER allow anyone to try to introduce you to ANY shadchan of any form at my wedding, I mean can't a girl have some fun for once? gee...)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

No, I Wasn't Sitting On Anyone's Black Hat!!

Contrary to popular belief, there were actually techinical difficulties, namely the wireless card on my trusty laptop decided to take a little snooze for the time being. Yes, it's still snoozing but this is one of those rare occasions when I actually have access to the internet, like hellllooo it's 2008.

Anyway I finally started getting used to the fact that I actually got engaged that the story of agreeing or diagreeing to go out with, ok let's call him Charlie, seems kind of old but a promise is a promise so I'll continue.

I basically agreed to go out with two thoughts in mind - either it will work or it won't. The first time we went out he followed all the rules and I followed all the rules (and by the way we met half of Brooklyn - 8 other nervous dating couples in the hotel lobby my dear intended chose - I almost asked him to take me home right then and there). I came home and said "he was normal enough to go out with again, after that I can't promise." Well, during date number 2 I learned that I know my way around this town way better than he does, but I did credit him with choosing a better location - another hotel lobby, sigh.

The topic of conversation accidentally turned serious in the middle of the second date, so serious in fact that when I got home I decided that he probably doesn't ever want to see me again. Wrong I was. So we went out again. And again. During all those agains I decided that this was someone that would make a wonderful husband and even though it scared me to death I informed him that I was ready to get engaged. We were in the car driving through the Midtown Tunnel and he almost drove into those dividing poles. It was actually kind of funny.