These days it seems like I’m disciplining my students more frequently than not. It’s that time of year, more than halfway through the semester where the students can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and a part of them seems to give up. They’ll snap out of it, but it’s not a fun time for them or for me. I’ve lectured almost every single one of my second grade classes, confiscated mirrors, had private talks with co-teachers and individual students, and made students stand – all of which would be par for the course at SGHS but unusual for me at CPHS. Whenever I start to get a little too discipline-happy, though, I think back to first grade.
I mean actual first grade, like, when I was in elementary school.
At least, I think it was first grade. Time plays tricks on your brain. All I know is that I was old enough to feel guilt, and young enough to think that the dreadful pit that was forming in my stomach would never go away. I don’t even remember what I did, I just remember my teacher becoming upset and then asking a few of the students to come to the back of the class and talk to her individually. I was literally saved by the bell, and so she asked us to talk to her tomorrow. I then resolved with all the strength in my chubby first grade body that I would never go to school again. I was sure however, that my mom wouldn’t agree.
Mom, by the way, has never heard this story. Sorry Mom.
I somehow managed to fake sick for two weeks. She even took me to the hospital which was a big deal as my parents tend to wait until we’re on the side of dying before admitting that perhaps we need professional help. The doctors could find nothing terribly wrong, but I still complained that I felt woozy, and my stomach hurt, and I couldn’t bear to go to school feeling like this. That much of my deception was true – two weeks in I was still convinced that my wonderful teacher hated me, and I couldn’t imagine what would happen to me when I arrived back at school.
I don’t remember how my mom and I decided it was time to go back to school. Perhaps she coerced me, perhaps I volunteered, all I know is that after two weeks of faking an illness to avoid a teacher’s wrath, I went back to school. I spent the whole day unable to focus, just waiting for my teacher to look me directly in the eye and call me to the back of the classroom; it never happened. She had forgotten that she had wanted to talk to me two weeks earlier. Against all odds, I had managed to escape.
I try keep this experience in mind when I discipline students. While it’s necessary to keep a firm hand, if one of my students disappeared for two weeks that wouldn’t help anyone.