I love teaching.
I also love peace and quiet, but those two passions don’t often work well together. Kids are wonderful. Kids are fun. But kids can also be noisy, and messy, because growing and learning is a chaotic, imperfect, fall-on-your-face-and-get-back-up-again adventure. Watching kids as they wrestle through the learning process melts my heart, but sometimes it also hurts my ears.
I remember, because I was one of those kids.
My 6th grade teacher, let’s call him Mr. Allen, knew how to make history come alive. He taught us botany, and creative writing. He engaged us with current news headlines, and taught us how to have empathy towards the world around us. He invited us to join him after school shaping bonsai trees, writing letters to local representatives, or learning about the inner workings of a combustion engine. On most days, he was great with kids.
But sometimes he couldn’t handle the noise.
Sometimes he fumed. Sometimes he snapped. Sometimes, he blew a gasket.
As a teacher you understand that your class will have an interesting concoction of introverts and extroverts inhabiting your classroom. You will have the painfully shy, and the incredibly robust. The wallflowers and the wildflowers.
I realize my class is filled with those that are quintessentially quiet, and others who are serial socialites. Kids who love to curl in the corner with a pile of books, and kids who like to roam around the room finding someone to talk with. My hidden ones, and my always audible ones.
Sometimes the yappers can rub teachers the wrong way. They raise their hands before they know what they want to say. They have an answer, before you finish the question. They live on center stage.
But extroverts are WONDERFUL! They keep a classroom lively. They have a wealth of ideas. They are friendly, kind, and spirited.
And truth be told, I’m a yapper. Except when I leave the classroom. Then I need quiet. Desperately. To recharge.
So years ago, I recall being an uber extrovert in Mr. Allen’s classroom. He doled out the warnings, the scoldings, and more than enough of those delightful penmanship opportunities to write “I will not interrupt the class” one hundred times on the chalkboard. But I was wired to be moving. I was wired to be talking. I was wired to get on Mr. Allen’s nerves.
One particular day, this little angelic sixth grader was goofing around at the drinking fountain, and all of a sudden I heard his booming voice behind me. Let’s just say his response to my antics crossed any lines of professionalism or ethical behavior. But those were the days when teachers carried such high respect, that they were not often questioned. When I told my mother that Mr. Allen had picked me up and threatened to toss me over the 2nd floor railing, she mumbled something about me probably deserving it. She probably thought I embellished my story a little.
His reaction didn’t make me a quieter student, but it did leave a reminder to cherish all personalities, even when they come with a set of wiring much different than my own.
Some of my students are wired for sound. They need an endless supply of opportunities for discussion. For attention. For affirmation. Some of my students are wired in a quieter way. They sit still, listen attentively, and embrace the quiet moments to reflect, explore and imagine. And both sounds are wonderful to my ears.
I’m participating in the Slice of Life Writing Challenge. This is Day 3.