Is it important to be earnest?

I was pretty disappointed today.  The day started with an extreme high.  I woke up early, went to Starbucks, stood up for myself to a dirty-mouthed panhandler, made two new acquaintances, and it wasn’t even 7:30am!  Then, I got the speakers I ordered through a small grant I received, our NGLC grant team had our interview today, which I felt went super well (and I was gratified to work with colleagues who are passionate, well-spoken, intelligent, different, and are teachers), and then I spent the rest of the day working with a small group to pull all the parts of our grant application together.  It truly felt like an accomplishment to … see our handiwork.  Then to top it all off, the iPads I had gotten through DonorsChoose finally came in!

I was getting ish done for my kids and my school.

And then, I talk with the sub.  I see the quality of the work the kids did while I was gone.  And that was all ish too.  Just.  wipe the floor with it. kind of stuff. and behavior. ugh.

It sucks.  I wonder how I’m going to address the lack of respect and the lack of learning that happened.  I wonder if I will bring up trust.

Because to me, it’s really just this simple:  if I can’t trust them to “take charge of their learning” (a school value), I can’t leave them.  Even if it means I need to pass up opportunities to enhance their learning.

But then, the selfish part of me protests because such a decision sucks for me too!  I love doing these kinds of things (applying for grants, brainstorming pilots, etc) in addition to teaching.  In fact, I’m almost at a point, though, where I’d rather be writing grant proposals and researching best practices and talking about data coaching, than actually teaching in this specific classroom.  (Though one silver-lining: I think these will be the hardest kids I’ll have in a while…)

No matter.  The facts of the here and now is that I’m here.  I’m teaching.  And tomorrow, I need to face the kids.  I need them to know this isn’t okay and that they haven’t “gotten away with it.”  At the same time though, simply meting out a punishment doesn’t seem to be right either.  If I just give a class-wide detention, I’ll be the enemy and they’ll be the victim.  If I run a class conversation though, what might come of it?  I think I’m just afraid.

That is to say..

When I talk about trust, learning, respect.. should I be earnest and truthful?  It’s different with middle schoolers.  They don’t know which lines are taboo and they don’t necessarily listen to reason.  I think part of the reason why I’m brusque, joke a lot, or fake sensitivity around them is because I fear being too honest or earnest with them – because if they reject it or tear it to pieces, that’s my heart on the floor.

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3 responses to “Is it important to be earnest?

  1. 😦 for perspective, even though we were all “good students” substitute teacher days felt like the days we “got a break” from having to work super hard. 😛

  2. I think as difficult as honesty is, kids need it. They can tell when we’re faking (even the little ones), and to be honest shows them the respect that you’re asking of them in return. Not that it’s easy, or not heart-breaking… and you may be rejected when you first try that kind of conversation. But I think to be an adult and wield that kind of honesty with children or adolescents is powerful, and no matter what the result it should have an impact. Good luck!!

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