“Ms. Kim, you probably feel pissed off when I called the guest teacher sexist because you believe I was rude and shouldn’t have said that. to be honest, I agree with you, I was out of line. However, I felt that way, I just felt that word. I chose to do this because it was just another way of expression. That word, sexist, was a word I used because I felt like when an instruction was given, I was called out, as well as keven, not because we’re dudes, but also because I just needed to say that word. I could’ve just perservered and held it in till the end so that no one will get the wrong idea about who I was calling sexist. Ms. kim, you probably want me to apologize for what I said. If you really want me to, I can. but, what I feel whats best is just respect her throughout the time we still have with Cal Shakes because I owe that to her.”
So, context. We’re having this amazing visiting teacher from Cal Shakes – a Bay Area Shakespeare group. They’re awesome and this teacher is great at managing. Unfortunately, I saw the same things from the students that they gave me when I came in at the beginning of the year. A lot of testing, a lot of rudeness… just a lot of sh…enanigans. Plus, I’ve been dealing with this issue of kids throwing out the word “racist” and “sexist” especially at adults… and I’m sort of like, these are loaded words, and in the sphere of adults, they’re overused. These issues –sexism and racism– are real, but they lose their clout when people misuse them! Anyway, kids know that I’m sensitive about those words.
Anyway, she’s really great at management and has been calling kids out on it, and so of course, they’re responding with derogatory speech and attitude. I’ve been having different students reflect, but at this point, it sometimes feels fake.
I read this letter today after school, and I smiled big in my head. This boy had left my room angry saying, “Why do we always have to check in? I’m never checking in.” He missed school the next day, but today, he gave me this letter, happier. I read it, and honestly, to spell it out for all you readers, this is why I teach. I get to witness the awesomeness that’s inside each kid that I come across. Sure, there are parts that our school has instilled in them… and maybe even a teensy piece has to do with me. But really, I didn’t teach him to write THIS. I didn’t teach him to put these pieces together and follow up with me like this.
Tomorrow, I’m going to tell him I read the letter. I’m going to suggest that apologies still go a really long way, and that he should apologize because as an adult, I know how much it means to me. And I’m going to leave it at that. He doesn’t need a standing ovation. I just hope he continues to grow.
Update 4/3 —
Had a talk with him in the morning. I was rambly (per usual). Midspeak, I stopped myself.
“Do you get what I mean?”
“I hear you.”
“Can you speak back what you heard?”
“Hold on, I’m processing.”
“Okay, okay. Well..”
“I’ll do what needs to be done.”