In the mid 90’s I was teaching first grade. As a male in elementary with an early childhood endorsement, I often taught classrooms filled with students with behavior issues (mostly boys) who “needed a male role model in their lives”. To be honest, I actually welcomed the challenge, because so many of my students really didn’t have positive role models. However, there was one child in particular who was a challenge for me and in order to protect the innocent, I will call him Jimmy. Jimmy had a knack for pushing people right up to the edge of their patience and then giving a little nudge. Around the end of winter (when teachers and students are desperate for spring break), Jimmy gave me that little nudge that sent me over my cliff. After a pretty rough morning of behavior issues, I had asked the class if there were any questions. Jimmy’s hand shot up in the air and then proceeded to tell me that I had missed a belt loop that morning. A minute later, Jimmy was in the principal’s office with no note of explanation (which is something that I always ask teachers to provide). Fortunately, my principal had the wisdom to realize that I just needed a “Jimmy Break” and kept him for a cool off period (time for the teacher to cool off). I’m glad my principal never asked what Jimmy had done to warrant a trip to the office, because I would have felt a little silly explaining it was because he had pointed out a fashion faux pas.
Nearly 20 years later, I can look back on that incident and laugh. It seems so silly and insignificant, but at that point I was a little frazzled. I often think of that episode when a teacher sends a student down and says, “I need a break”. I get it. I’ve been there! The key is knowing when we are getting frustrated or hyper-focusing on a student and allowing a break for the student and teacher. It’s okay to say, I need a break from time to time. Better to lighten the load than let the straw break the camel’s back. Don’t be that teacher who sends their student to the office for pointing out a clothing mishap. The truth is that often our most challenging students can be those that are the most dear to our hearts (like Jimmy is to mine) and the things that push us over the edge can be things that we can laugh about…many years later:)
The Fashion Police
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” – Saint Augustine
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy
“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.” – Helen Keller