Some days I laugh, some days I cry, and some days I wonder what in the world is going on through the minds of these kids. I am sure we all feel the same way when it comes to the mind of a teenager. We see some of their risky behaviors and shake our heads. However, if we are being honest, we all know we have had some behaviors unbecoming of a human being at that age as well. Today, I was reminded why I want to go back to high school, and shake the shoulders of the teenager I used to be.
Attention seeking behaviors are present in every single class. There are positive behaviors like raising a hand, or making eye contact. However, there are also the negative behaviors that make the day "colorful" to say the least. Some of this "colorful" behavior can be quite frustrating at times, but some times it is extremely difficult not to laugh. Laughing at the negative attention seeking behaviors will only cause the student to feel empowered, and this can cause him or her to continue this type of unpleasant action. Therefore, as a teacher it is important to really reward those positive behaviors, and try to squash the negative with lack of attention, discipline, or guidance. I believe each individual in my room is deserving of attention, but I try to find ways to give that praise and one on one contact these teenagers crave (whether they admit it or not). Therefore, each day I shake the hand of each student, look them in the eye and tell them hello or ask about their day. It only takes a few minutes while they are doing their "bell work / journaling," and allows me to show the kids I care, love and respect them.
However, today was one of those days when the handshake was not enough to soothe the psyche of a few students, and I had one of those "out of body experiences." I felt like I was looking down on myself as I promptly turned to two students trying to staple each other, and said in a very calm, cool, and collected manner; "Boys, please put the stapler down. The stapler is not a weapon, and not a toy. No, I am afraid it is not a war zone, we are clear of all I.E.D.'s and we do not have to duck for cover. So, you need to stop trying to staple each other, and get back to work."
Now, this may not seem very interesting or hilarious to anybody else, but for a minute close your eyes and see yourself in this situation. As I was listening to myself say these words in my soft voice, I realized I sounded like my fourth grade teacher. I was not even surprised at the occurrence, and really did not see it as a big deal. I did have to send them separately to the restroom to wash their arms with soap and water, as they had actually accomplished to land three staples a piece in eachother's arms. As I continued class as normal, the students were more focused, and the stapler was no longer an issue. I made sure to praise their hard work during discussions, and talked to each of the "stapler boys" about their thoughts on the story we read a few times. I wonder how many times in my career as a student did I cause the teacher to shake his or her head and sigh in exasperation at my negative attention seeking behaviors.
All I know is that "stapler war," is a new one for me. I cannot believe that they did not even flinch while they ripped the implanted foreign metal teeth out of their arms. I just kept envisioning when my first year of teaching I had stapled the palm of my hand as I tried putting up a bulletin board. It brought tears to my eyes. I guess I am just not a testosterone driven boy with an ego, but to each his own I suppose.