Thursday, March 26, 2009

You never know.

Last year my timetable had me in 2 different classrooms every day (one for math and one for science), both of which were used by only one other teacher all day. The teacher I shared a math classroom with had prep during the one period I taught in there, and got to know the faces of some of my students as she popped in and out of the room now and then and waited for us to clear out so she could get set up for the next period. We got along pretty well, and she complimented me on my board notes several times that year.

This year, that teacher has a couple of the students in her grade 10 math class that I had in that grade 9 math class. When I popped into her room to show her something a couple of days ago, one of those students noticed and loudly piped up, "Hi, Miss!" Later that day, when I popped down to the hospitality department to purchase yummy student-prepared food for my lunch (I *love* having an excellent hospitality department at our school), that same student was there serving food..."Hi, Miss!" In both cases, I smiled, said hi, and carried on with my day...I'm not real chatty with students outside my own classroom, unfortunately, and, well, let's just say my experience with this particular student was not the most pleasant.

Today, when I was chatting with that student's math teacher about this and that, I mentioned being amused at her enthusiasm...and this teacher told me that student has a deep respect for me as a teacher. Huh? *Her?* I sure didn't feel respected by her last year...huh.

Last semester, at parent-teacher night, I had a similar experience with another student...someone who was not doing so hot academically and probably got my unhappy face more frequently than I might have liked for wasting time during class. Pretty much the first thing her mother told me was, "You're her favourite teacher!" Huh? I'm *her* favourite teacher? Really? Don't I give her a hard time and get annoyed with her a lot? Huh.

This semester, I have been pretty sticky about making students use a sign-in sheet when they are late and when they take "washroom" breaks...a policy that I have adopted from multiple teachers in the school (it's got history behind it that we don't need to discuss here). I was mildly shocked one day to see my first instance of swearing at me on one of these sheets, basically telling me to eff off. Of course it was done completely anonymously, and I discussed with another teacher that I had decided to intentionally not address the issue in class...lecturing the whole class was pointless and would probably only lead to an escalation of aggravating incidents. She told me that it was an indication that I probably have a crazy student in my class, because as students have talked in her class she has got the impression that I am generally well-liked. Really? By my students? Even the ones whom I probably make feel my irritation with them on a regular basis? Huh.

Last semester, I commented once to my grade 12 college-preparation-level chemistry class that they were my favourite class (they were...probably partly because the material was more intellectual than the grade 9 and 10 courses I taught the rest of the day and partly because the students were closer to me in age than my grade 9s and 10s and I felt I "clicked" better with them). One student replied, "Why, miss? We're a**holes!" I guess the surprise goes both ways. Huh. Maybe that's something I should fix...students should not be surprised that when all is said and done, their teacher still believes in their potential and likes something about them, even if they are one of those students that seem to be wasting that potential at the moment.

One student from that grade 12 class greeted me warmly today & we chatted for a bit in the hallway (look at that...I guess I do chat with students occasionally)...and that was a student I had to fail. Really? He is not bitter? Huh. Perhaps he was just as surprised that I was not bitter about his failure to get the credit.

I could put some words in here about how you never know what impression you're making on those around you, or about how we are all being watched all the time, and I could probably even tie it into what I talked about during the young adults' service this past Sunday, but I won't. I am just recording some thoughts that were in my head here. Besides, I have an in-school professional development workshop all day tomorrow, and I still have to put together supply teacher material for my grade 10 classes (though I am actually just going to modify another teacher's material, and the prep for my grade 9 class is already done), and it's already 10:00 at night. Part of the reason I try to build in safeguards against procrastination when I assign projects is because I procrastinate so easily myself, heh...