As last school year progressed, I found myself saying the same phrases over and over, to the point that I could have made an audio recording of myself and stayed home for the last half of the year and no one would have noticed. The phrases are along the lines of:
“Put your feet flat on the floor.”
“Sit up straight.”
“No, you must wait for a break to go to the bathroom.”
“Do not chat with one another during class.”
“You don’t need a snack. You should eat breakfast.”
“Those papers should be filed neatly in your big binder when you are finished using them.”
I confess, I took a small amount of pride in the high standards of behavior that I expected of my nine little angels. However, I was still a little bit frustrated by their seeming inability to apply such self-discipline without daily (hourly, minutely) reminders.
Fast forward two months. For the past two days, I have been attending a seminar called “Spell to Read and Write” from 8:30-5:30. For the first time in many years, the tables have completely turned! I found myself sitting at a long table in a hard, straight-backed chair, listening to a lady at an overhead projector for extended periods of time.
Over the past few days, I came to a sobering realization: I am a terrible student. I slumped in my chair, employed inattentive body language, whispered to my neighbors, faked restroom emergencies for an opportunity to stretch my legs, snacked constantly, sat cross-legged in my chair, and caused general disruption in my work space with my papers scattered everywhere.
This experience has opened my eyes to the unfairness of my expectations for my little ten-year-old students. I vow to get off their case about posture, attentive habits, and allow them to complete assignments while lounging on the pillows in the reading corner. Furthermore, I will employ song-and-dance routines whenever possible to break the monotony of daily classroom life.
Ha, ha, ha. Not really. But maybe I will put a little more compassion in my voice when I find myself repeating for the eightieth time (and it’s only 9:30) “Feet on the floor!”