I believe it’s high time to roll up my sleeves and start analyzing the negative classroom interaction I described in my previous Reflective Practice post. If you’re a newcomer, I recommend that you read the full story first.
I decided to chunk the story and then put the chunks into two separate categories: facts and feelings. I did so to unveil the true nature of the whole incident. However, it was not as easy as I thought it would be. Not all facts are mere facts.
- I enter the classroom at 12:30 pm.
- I hand out the corrected film reviews.
- Most of the students nod and shake their heads
to indicate that everything is clear(my assumption, not a fact really, that’s why I’m deleting it).
- All of a sudden
a hand shoots up(I used this verb to indicate the rude manner = subjective, I’m replacing it with a girl puts up her hand) and the girl snapsat me in Czech (snaps = a subjective feeling, I’m replacing it with ‘asks’).
- I ask for clarification
dispassionately(not really sure about the adjective now, I’m deleting it).
- How on earth should I know which version is correct?” she
raps outagain (a subjective feeling, I’m replacing it with ‘responds’).
- “Could you read the sentences for me so that I know what you mean?” I ask
calmly(not sure about this adjective at all).
- The other students have noticed by now and quiet down
so that they can watch the bull fight(my assumption, exaggeration, hyperbole).
- The girl is ready – she’s got both essays in front of her and starts reading the sentences,
in a triumphant manner(my assumption).
- Just before she finishes the second one, she pauses and realizes that the sentences are not identical.
- She immediately
withdraws her ‘accusation’(she actually does nothing of that sort, I’m replacing it with she indicates that she understands now).
- She doesn’t apologize verbally but waves her hands
to imply that she understands now(my assumption, maybe she just wants to end the discussion).
- The class is quiet.
- “Next time think twice before you ask in such a rude way”, I say.
- She remains silent.
- We go on with the lesson.
- I’m a bit hungry.
- I’m looking forward to this class.
- I feel pleased with myself because I managed to correct the film reviews overnight.
- I’m puzzled (when the girl asks).
- I feel a little alert.
- I strike the defensive pose (because the girl tends to ask tricky questions).
- I feel my nerves vibrating.
- My pulse and blood pressure go up (I didn’t have a heart rate monitor, of course, that’s why the feeling category).
- I’m already red in the face (I didn’t have a mirror to check)…
- … and that’s a bad sign (a bad sign for whom?).
- I feel unfairly accused and thus offended (what was I actually accused of?).
- I expect her to apologize verbally.
- My eyes are glowing with suppressed fury (again, no evidence to prove it was visible),
- even though I feel relieved that I wasn’t caught in the act this time.
- I can feel the everybody’s eyes aimed at the two protagonists.
- I feel aggrieved.
- The oppressive atmosphere lingers for a while.
- I feel guilty and unprofessional.
At first sight, there are too many emotions involved – mostly my negative emotions, I should stress. Some of the emotions emerged unexpectedly, but I suspect they were based on my previous experience with the class (I knew the class was challenging and I was aware of the fact that some students, perhaps unintentionally, occasionally threatened my authority by asking tricky questions). Other feelings fall into the ‘self-indulgent’ category, e.g. I looked forward to the class or I felt pleased with myself. Unsurprisingly and inevitably, I felt disappointed when things suddenly changed their course. I simply expected everything to be perfect.
Based on the foregoing analysis, I decided to rewrite the story, but this time only using the facts. In other words, I ditched all the subjective emotions and I’m serving the interaction in its pure form as it might have been seen by somebody totally uninvolved, and maybe the students themselves.
I enter the classroom at 12:30 pm. I hand out the corrected film reviews. Most of the students nod and shake their heads. All of a sudden a girl puts up her hand and asks: “Why did you correct this sentence in my film review and left the same thing uncorrected in my previous writing assignment?” I don’t understand and so I ask for clarification. “How on earth should I know which version is correct?” she responds. “Could you read the sentences for me so that I know what you mean?” I ask. The other students have noticed by now and they are quiet, listening. The girl has got both essays in front of her and starts reading the sentences. Just before she finishes the second one, she pauses and realizes that the sentences are not identical. She indicates that she understands now. The class is quiet. “Next time think twice before you ask in such a rude way”, I say. She remains silent. We go on with the lesson.
If I could turn back time, I would definitely do things in a different way – I’d try to be attentive but unemotional and calm. Maybe I’d talk to the girl after the class rather than try to solve the situation in front of the whole class. But to be able to act impartially and have a detached view in the future, I need to stop doing several things now:
- I need to stop having all those expectations.
- I need to stop feeling that I’m the one who must always be perfect.
- I need to stop thinking that things will always go the way I’ve planned them.
In other words, I need to be kind to myself, no matter what happens. Thank you Josette 🙂