mathinaz

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 13 2010

Hormones

A big part of adjusting to this job has been learning how to handle the ridiculousness of middle school hormones. Case in point: one boy in my infamous Period 3, who was actually wonderful for most of the year. We got along really well, he worked hard and ignored distractions, and I told him all the time how proud I was of his behavior. Then there was one day when he was already in a bad mood and I didn’t let him do something he wanted to do. Despite the fact that I had a good reason and explained it to him, something in our relationship snapped in that moment. By the next day, he had decided that I was his biggest enemy. Since then, we’ve had numerous conversations like this:

(out of nowhere) “I hate you!!”

(calmly) “Ok, I respect that, but don’t forget that I really like you still.”

“No! Don’t respect that! I lost all my respect for you!!”

(calmly) “You don’t have to respect me, but you do need to be respectful please.”

“I can’t be respectful!! I HATE YOU!”

(calmly) “Would you like to tell me why?”

“NO! You’re the WORST TEACHER EVER and you’re MEAN and this is BORING and I think this is the WORST CLASS EVER!!!!!!!”

(calmly) “Okay, well I’m very sorry you feel that way. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

Honestly, it took me a couple tries to get down the dead-calm responses. At first I took it pretty personally and got angry, but that’s absolutely not an effective way to handle it and probably made things worse. Plus, I realized he was entirely irrational at about the point when he told me, “I hate you and you’re the worst teacher ever but I can’t tell you why because I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” We had a little breakthrough for a few days where he liked me again, but then he remembered to hate me and now we’re back. Today this was our conversation:

“I HATE YOU!”

“Would you like to say that again?”

“I HATE YOU!”

“Go ahead, another time.”

“I HATE YOU!”

“Okay, again, this time with more feeling.”

“Well, I don’t want to yell.”

“I didn’t say yelling. I said more feeling.”

“Oh. I HATE YOU!”

“Alright. Again?”

“I HATE YOU!”

“And another time?”

“Why are you making me repeat myself?”

“Well, because you clearly need to tell me all the time, so I thought I’d give you the chance to go for it.”

“You’re the WORST TEACHER EVER.”

“Okay. Want to repeat that?”

Seriously, I wish I could get this on camera for you. I feel like a caricature (of what? I’m not sure. Something hilariously unflappable) when I talk to this kid, and I usually just want to die laughing when I walk away. Still, I wish hating me weren’t a habit at this point. My favorite moments are still the ones where he forgets and is cool with me again.

3 Responses

  1. That [ie. your calm] is pretty amazing. Seriously, I’ll have to practice by having my siblings/friends hurl insults at me, and respond calmly.

  2. Jen Smith

    This is so impressive. I’m getting ready to start institute in Houston and it’s one of the things I so want to perfect. It’s going to take some time.

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