This morning at about 9:30, my patience ran out. Now, as a teacher, having your patience run out that early in the day is a huge problem. My classroom teacher sent me to the back table to work with one of our students who is exceptionally behind. He, after doing several correctly, decided to shut down completely and not work. I am absolutely too stubborn to let a child be more stubborn than I am. I also have a ridiculously small amount of patience, which in combination with that stubbornness can result in episodes like the one today.
So here we are at the back table. We sat from about 9:30 that morning until just before lunch at 11. I basically spent all morning repeating two phrases, “you have two choices, so this now or do it at recess.” And, “doing this is not an option. We are at school and at school we do work. Acting like you are crying will not get you out of doing your work.” And holy crows, all I was asking was for him to try it. I even explained to him that if he wasn’t perfect at it, it didn’t matter because this was the first time he had practiced it!
Absolutely every bit of the already limited amount of patience I have was gone because of this. I even asked the classroom aide (what would I do without her!) to switch me reading groups so that I could win this little battle.
I won. Believe me I have more willpower and a much higher tolerance for uncomfortable situations than any six year old. Eventually he decided to do the activity. I praised him and then told him that he would come in for recess and do the rest of it. I don’t back down and you don’t waste two hours of my life without consequences.
Now here’s where it gets dicey. I feel a little bad that I wasted all morning being stubborn. Sometimes my blind ambition gets the better of me and I become so determined to come out on top that I forget some other things might be important. I can justify spending all morning doing what I did by saying if he learns that being stubborn and not doing his work will result in punishment then it would as worth it. This is not the first time he has done this to the three teachers in our room. He is going to have to figure out that, in school, you have to do work even if you don’t want to and pouting won’t get you out of it because it isn’t cute and all it does it make things harder for you.
I can also list several reasons I should not have let my stubbornness get the best of me like that. First, I wasted an entire morning that could have been spent with other students who are behind but willing to learn. Second, I was frustrated the rest of the day and even the students I would not have been angry with could tell I was on the edge of loosing it and stayed away from me. Finally, I can almost guarantee that he will pull this stunt again.
Was it really worth it? Did I make a point by doing this and not backing down? I try to never go back on my decisions when it comes to discipline because if you let it go once making up for that and getting them to repeat appropriate behaviors is almost impossible. Did I make my point clear or did I waste time becaus I got overly determined?
I’m going to ask my classroom teacher tomorrow and I have a feeling she is going to tell me (probably in kinder words) to get my act together and not get so darn feisty over things that don’t matter. She will probably tell me I wasted my time and that I need to remember I am the adult and cannot act like a brat who is not getting her way. We have enough students that do that already. She shouldn’t have to deal with me doing it. Still I cannot shake the fact that if I gave in it would only reinforce that bad behavior. I’ve got a lot to learn and I hope my heightened stubbornness won’t get me into any more trouble. I guess, though, I probably deserve any trouble coming to me…