Alternate Reality

Imagine the following scenario: Your friend walks in, visibly upset.

"What's wrong?"

"I just got in a fight."

"You did? What happened?"

"I told this kid to sit down, and he wouldn't listen. I kept asking nicely, but he just rolled his eyes at me. Then he started mimicking me and calling me names."

"Wait, you were fighting with a kid?"

For most New Yorkers, confrontation with strangers isn't unusual. Still, most of us have the decency to avoid arguing with minors. How is it then that adults end up in shouting matches with kids, almost everyday in schools? It's a bizarre alternate reality.

This year, I've thankfully managed to avoid the embarrassment and frustration of arguing with a student. It's taken lots of deep breaths however to stop myself. Recently, I've found myself restraining my temper most often during after school. In my small group of students, there's one boy who not only distracts himself and others, but he's often rude and disrespectful. And while I haven't lost my temper, I still find myself puzzled by the strange environment a classroom creates where an 8-year-old boy can raise my blood pressure so effortlessly.

Obviously, the classroom is a unique setting where the adult-child relationship is defined by a dynamic of power and authority. Also, when you're trying to teach students who are one and two grades below level, disrespectful students aren't just a nuisance, they're a barrier to the education of everyone around them. Still sometimes I can't help almost laughing, wondering if these confrontations could happen anywhere else.


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