In which INP faces down the (cute little) beast.

Let's just be honest: I'm not cut out for elementary school. I'm too demanding, I don't have enough patience and I rely too heavily on a system of logical reasoning. Which is not to say that middle school boys are the most logical creatures God has graced the face of our beautiful planet with. But the basic scaffolding is in place. Their system of logic may not be fully developed, but it's at least there.

This after school class consists of the youngest students I've ever taught en masse. And I'm having some fucking issues. Not that the children (and oh boy are they ever children) can see. But inside my own head. I am having some fucking issues.

Taehyeon. Chubby, chubby little Taehyeon. The kid could not be sweeter. He also could not be more irritating. Well. I'm sure he could. Soonhyeon the Crier comes to mind. But I am having some serious issues understanding why everything that can come to hand needs to be shredded into tiny little horrible pieces and then launched across the room at his companions as a weapon of mass irritation. It's not that that I'm actually having an issue with, itself, though. It's the fact that every time I tell little Taehyeon not to do that, he looks at me with sheer innocence and total repentance and sincerely apologizes, and promises not to do it again. And then he does it again. And feels just as guilty the next time.

What the son of a bitch is that? And how do you handle it? If he were six months older and more capable of logic, I would give him a look and use a tone of voice that would make him afraid for his life. Problem solved. But I tried that once, and the look on his face of total confusion as to why it was the teacher he actually seems to be quite fond of now hates him broke my heart into pieces smaller than the bits of scrap paper still left clinging to his sticky little palm. And when he fucked about getting his portion of the assignment done, and I used a tone to get him to get back on it, he then turned around five minutes later and called me over to proudly show me his progress, as though my smile and "Good job!" were literally the most important thing in the world to him.

Team The Simpsons then lost their shit over the fact that I was explaining how one example design was in the shape of a peace sign and kept "listening and repeating" when no one even fucking asked them to, replacing it with "PI-JAH!" (pizza). It was fucking hilarious, and I was the only one who was left out of the joke. And the fact that it was actually really fucking getting on my nerves was not helped by the fact that they were not trying to derail my lecture and create a distraction, but were completely unaware of the fact that they were doing anything obnoxious to begin with.

The long and the short of it is, I'm dead used to behavioral issues. I am adept at handling them now, to the extent that only the co-teachers who bypass me by decades of experience can handle issues more effectively than I can in the classroom. But. These are of an entirely different variety. They are the behavioral issues of boys who are old and ornery enough to be doing it on purpose. Students who are pitting their will against mine. On purpose. I can handle that. This..... utter nonsense is a bit out of my league at the moment, to be honest. My default way of thinking is: Kid is acting like an asshole -- kid is trying to be an asshole. But that's just not so with these little guys.

I'm getting it together. Today already went much more smoothly than Tuesday did, because I'm adjusting my tone and posture and my way of handling them. Gentle and shit like that. I can do it. It's just going to take a bit of self-monitoring to get it down to an auto-setting. Right now, it's not that I can't keep the nonsense in check. It's that my way of keeping the nonsense in check is a bit too harsh for the customers at hand. And I don't want to be Scary Teacher. But all the same, class time is not Super Fun Time. It's just not. And as I explained to them on Tuesday, they are in middle school now. That means that I don't take them to the bathroom and pull up their little pants for them, and that means that they don't throw erasers. Or say, "PI-JAH!" fifteen times in a row for no apparent reason. We're all going to have to make some adjustments and work together on this one.


CeilingofStars said...

I used to have this feeling with young children that they were incredibly annoying and kind of stupid and it couldn't be helped. Like, yes, please rub your snotty little hands all over me, thanks. But at some point I realized that they weren't dumb or purposefully annoying or whatever, but that they literally had never been taught what was the appropriate way to handle a situation.

One of my 6th grade classes did awwwwful on their last vocabulary test. My co-teacher was quick to forgive them and made them rewrite the test, which is great for reinforcing THAT material, but I could tell the issue with these kids was not that they had shirked studying but that they probably had never really learned how to 'self-study'. So I taught them how to make and use flashcards. Things that we see as common sense, but that they might never have been exposed to before.

Next time your little paper-thrower does that, you might talk to him about why it upsets you...that it's hard to think when you see paper flying, and that if he's playing with paper you know he's not listening to you, which makes you feel sad. Like you said, he seems sincerely dismayed that he upset you, so assume he has no understanding of the issue and explain it to him from the ground up. I find it can even be kind of fun for me to get to the root of these things in my own mind. :3

Rob-o-SE-yo said...

one of my old coworkers once commented, it's not that the kid's trying to get on my nerves by getting out of his chair and running around... that's just his natural state.

HL said...

"weapon of mass irritation"...

Can I borrow that phrase from time to time? It's beautifully appropriate.