May 28, 2011 Leave a comment
The Philadelphia Urban Seminar was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I learned so much, not only as a future educator, but also as a developing leader. On Thursday I had my first serious altercation with a student, and I’ve been pondering on how I would verbalize this experience for quite some time. This one student was being extremely disruptive, rude, and disrespectful towards the teacher as she was trying to administer the predictive assessment tests. She was complaining about her unsharpened pencil. I was thinking to myself, “it’s not a big deal, I will gladly give you another pencil!”. The teacher was losing her temper, and she started to raise her voice. I would be lying if I said I was calm and collected. As I offered a new pencil to the student, she took it and I took her old pencil. Now, I can admit that I wasn’t gentle, and I probably shouldn’t have been as aggressive, but it was a time where I really lost my cool…
The student caused a fit, and the teacher instructed her to take the assessment in the dean’s office. Afterwards, my teacher and I had a conversation that will always be remembered.. She did not tell me I was wrong, or make me feel guilty, but simply explained to me that there will be students that you can’t battle with because you’ll never win. At the moment, I didn’t quite acknowledge and appreciate the substantiality of her argument. After thinking about it for hours, and the ensuing days, I realized that I made a big mistake. The pencil swap was insignificant, fairly negligible, but my inability to control my emotions and remain patient was very improper of me. I realized that I must be calm at ALL times, even when the worst of students exasperate me. I learned that an effective educator manages his classroom by eliminating negative tension and completing the primary objective: teaching the students! I noticed from my practicum experience that students are more attentive, more inclined to participate, and overall a better performer when they have a positive relationship with their teacher. Although I am not particularly proud of this incident, I am satisfied with the lesson learned.
All in all, I’ve been able to connect what we’ve learned in the classroom and the readings to the real world. I was able to understand that “labeling” may very well adversely affect the learning environment. Perhaps I “labeled” this child as a delinquent, perhaps not. At the end of the day, I do not know what I was thinking, but I wish not to make excuses. Fortunately, I had an experience such as this now, during the seminar, as opposed to when I’m a teacher with my own classroom. Additionally, I need to strive to implement a more effective strategy towards order and discipline. As we’ve all learned, a great educator has control of their classroom. He or she is capable of maintaining order without doing anything unethical, immoral, or improper. I strongly believe that the key to achieving this is to build a healthy and positive relationship with the students. For it not until then that students will trust me and trust that I am making the best decisions, even if it’s one that they may dislike. It is unfortunate that this student didn’t have respect for me, because this was something that had built up from the first day. There were times where she refused to complete the class work simply because I handed the sheets out. There were even times where she left questions unanswered and when I inquired as to whether she needed help, she would simply ignore me. In the future, I will be sure to avoid situations such as these. My gratitude for what the urban seminar has taught me is immeasurable.