Friday, January 6, 2012

Year 2: Week 16-Laughing "at" Kids

When I looked down at one of my 3rd graders papers and saw the word “peanow.” I was really confused what musical instrument she was trying to spell and then I sounded it out and preceded to laugh out loud.  She was trying to spell “piano.” Wow.

This was after class and the student had left the room closing the door behind her so my response wasn’t in front of anyone, but I did get a good laugh out of this. One of my fellow teachers enjoyed this when I showed him after school and he laughed as well. And then when I posted this on my facebook profile seven people “liked” it and four people made comments.

Am I a bad teacher because I laugh about things that my students do or say? Well, I don’t think so. It means I'm human, and laughing about students is a fact of life teachers.  But there's some things you have to keep in mind like, first off, I never laugh at something a student does unless I’m 100% sure he or she is trying to be funny and even at those times, I often hold it in.

As a teacher one of the most important skills you learn is how to laugh on the inside. What I mean by this is the ability to keep a straight face and show no reaction when a student does something like raise he left hand when you ask them to raise their right hand, which would be fine if this student wasn’t in 8th grade!

It’s usually not very hard for me to do this because when you look at someone who says or does something that is inadvertently humorous, they usually aren’t smiling so you just take your cue from them.

Then the student leaves the room and you let it out. Sometimes at the end of the day, I sit in my office, go through the funny things kids did or say and laugh for five minutes straight. More often then not I find another teacher, share these stories and have a good time reflecting on the silly things our kids do.

Is this mean? Well, I think it could easily become mean. It’s one thing to laugh in private about students asking an obvious question and another thing to talk about how “dumb” they are. Almost all the time when I tell people stories about kids, which are funny, somewhere in there I express how much I like the kid.

I say this, because it’s true. I like my students and I like how sometimes kids say silly things that seem like something someone far younger then them would say. That’s part of the charm of kids they aren’t perfect. The thing is, if you really have done a good job at making your students feel comfortable in your class and take chances in learning, these moments will occur more often as you’ve allowed that students to feel more comfortable taking chances. That’s a powerful thing. If you as a teacher can keep that laughter inside it will teach the other kids to react to students taking chances and sometimes failing in an appropriate and respectful way.

Yes, teachers can be very mean when they talk about students and I've walked out of situations when I feel teachers cross the line from being mean to laughing about a cute mistake.  There is a line and we need to be conscious as teachers about where that is, because the instant our laughter becomes meanness it shades the way we think about our students.  This is something that we can't hide from students at any age.  Once a students feels that you make fun of them in a mean way, your effectiveness as a teacher dramatically diminishes.

That's something that's not funny at all.

1 comment:

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