Today I’ll try to be a blunt talker and a straight shooter. There’s no time for alliterations, clichés, generalizations, redundancies, exaggerations, or rhetorical questions from now on. John Pfordresher has just called us to arms. These are the instructions:
- Think about a negative interaction you have had in your classroom – a single interaction that occurred between you and someone else (a student, another teacher, a parent, etc).
- Take this negative interaction and describe it.
- Pay particular attention to the feelings of all those involved.
- Do not analyze why you think they felt one way or another.
More details here.
The incident description:
I enter the classroom at 12:30 pm. I’m a bit hungry but I’m looking forward to this class – my 19-year-old B1 students are challenging but the work is rewarding. I hand out the corrected film reviews. I feel pleased with myself because I managed to correct them overnight. It’s time for questions. Most of the students nod and shake their heads to indicate that everything is clear. All of a sudden a hand shoots up and the girl snaps at me in Czech: “I have a question: Why did you correct one thing in my review and but hadn’t corrected the same thing in my previous writing?” I’m puzzled so I ask for clarification dispassionately. I feel a little alert, though. This girl usually asks tricky questions and she tends to be critical. She’s one of the most conscientious and diligent students, and she’s an attentive listener. However, she seems to be eager to catch people in the act. ”I have two identical sentences in two different essays and you left the first one unnoticed but corrected the other one. How on earth should I know which version is correct?” she raps out again. My pulse and blood pressure go up. I strike the defensive pose. “Could you read the sentences for me so that I know what you mean?” I ask calmly but I feel my nerves vibrating. I’m already red in the face and that’s a bad sign. The other students have noticed by now and quiet down so that they can watch the bull fight. The girl is ready – she’s got both essays in front of her and starts reading the sentences, in a triumphal manner. Just before she finishes the second one, she pauses and realizes that the sentences are not identical. She immediately withdraws her ‘accusation’ (yes I feel unfairly accused and thus offended). She doesn’t apologize verbally (as I would expect) but waves her hands to imply that she understands now. But at this point my eyes are glowing with suppressed fury, even though I feel relieved that I wasn’t caught in the act this time. The class is quiet; I can feel their eyes aimed at the two protagonists. “Next time think twice before you ask in such a rude way”, I say, aggrieved. She remains silent. We can go on with the lesson but the oppressive atmosphere lingers for a while. I feel guilty and unprofessional.
To be continued….