Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 22 2013

Stress-Free and Popcorn-Full

Imagine a middle school child throwing a temper tantrum. There’s yelling, crying, running around, and lots of refusal to follow directions. Naturally, it always ends up in my office.


Today, the tantrum was coming from a girl who decided that defiance was her best course of action once she’d been sent out of class. She initially wouldn’t come to the office, and then wouldn’t sit in my office, and finally sat down in an empty office and started a loud monologue about how much she hates the school, her teachers, the rules, and whatever else she could think of.


Both the teacher and I had given her chances to cool down and chances to air her concerns, all of which she’d refused. She was starting to blatantly misbehave just to piss me off, and I hate to give misbehaving kids what they want.


I grabbed a bag of popcorn from my office and joined her in the empty room. In my work clothes, I sat down on the floor, leaned up against the wall, and started watching her freak out while I munched on popcorn. She ranted at nothing while I calmly enjoyed buttery salty goodness. Admittedly, it was probably one of my less professional moments.


Luckily, the “you’re making yourself more miserable than you’re making me” tactic is usually very effective. She finally quit ignoring me, finally looked directly at me, finally brought the volume down, and said, “Ms. Mathinaz, I don’t think it’s cool that you’re eating that in front of me.”


I smiled sweetly and replied, “I didn’t say you were supposed to sit in this room.”


She processed that for a second, and then decided she was losing the Non Compliance game. She got up, went into the office I’d originally sent her to, sat down, and started her assignment. I followed her with my popcorn and kept munching while I explained consequences.


The good news is that she finally did what I wanted without me having to raise my stress level. The downside is that I ate the entire bag of popcorn, which is probably no better for my blood pressure.



One Response

  1. stephanie

    The popcorn is a good prop! Subliminal implication that you are enjoying the “show”.

    Not sure I could do admin, all the parts I hated about teaching, and few of the good parts. But it sounds like you are doing a good job of it!

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