221: Insolence

I teach school, grades pre-K (4 year olds) to 12th grade (17-19 year olds). I am no stranger to insolence. Yeah, I remember back in the dark ages when I was a teenager and knew everything worth knowing, and my teacher mom was an idiot, an old fuddy-duddy, she was plain uncool and just not with it. It still amazes me how much smarter she got in the few years it took me to reach the advanced age of 21.

Still, being confronted with teen-aged insolence still manages to raise the short hairs on the back of my neck. Anybody who has seen a snarling cat or dog who has THEIR fur ruffled and fluffed up with the adrenaline rush of fury knows full well the sensation of your own fur raising, prickling at the back of your neck. It is a glorious rush of feeling I now recognize and understand, and have learned to control (most of the time), so that I don’t actually kill people. What it does now is get my mental wheels turning, weighing options as to how best to address this child who has challenged me.

Most of my students will tell you that I am a very easy-going teacher, slow to anger, and willing to provide a second chance to correct a mistake. However, like when I was raising my own children (not the children of others I am raising five days a week in my classroom), I have learned that the motivation is the primary determinant of whether to offer a second chance, or whether to stomp them into the dirt instead.

People make mistakes. Mistakes are unintentional, and we learn from them. Mistakes are not things we punish people for, unless the mistake becomes a lazy habit, and there is no correction after multiple reminders. Most of the time, it can be clearly seen that the problem was a mistake. Sometimes, though…..

Sometimes, it is not a mistake. Sometimes the child flops his big, hairy toe over the line you have just drawn in the sand, and dares you to do something about it. When that happens, you must address it, and without hesitation or delay. There is a reason God made you bigger than your children. It is so that you as their parent can gain the upper hand of authority when they are small, and then gradually transfer to them adult freedoms and responsibilities as they age and it is appropriate to do so. When done properly, you have few problems as they grow larger and more autonomous.

When not done properly, you have my students – who raise the short hairs on the back of my neck.


126: Being Married

Being married is a lot like being single. You still do a lot of the very same things. You get up, get dressed, go to work, come home, get a bath, eat dinner – all that stuff does not change too much.

What does change, however, is fairly significant. You no longer “go it alone.” You must consult someone else. In a lot of ways, this is a very good thing. It can help prevent you from doing stupid things – you know, the ones you used to do when you were single. Now, it matters if you die. Then, it didn’t count quite so much.

Plus, when you are married, you have a new best friend. This is significant. Anyone who has had a best friend knows that getting to the process of being best friends is a rather complicated business. There are bumps in the road – potholes, too. You and your new best friend must learn to live together in relative harmony. This is not an easy process!

First, there are all the “normal” adjustments you make because the other person is human. Then, there are all the adjustments you make because this person if of the opposite sex – a whole ‘nother story. Then, there are the adjustments you make because you are actually married to this person.  As you can probably see, this means you are making multiple adjustments, for multiple reasons.  It’s hard enough being friends, add in the differences attributable to gender, and then the differences caused by marriage, and you can see why this is a complicated process!

Considering all the possible things that could go wrong, it is amazing that a lot of people do actually manage to stay married to each other. It’s tough, and it certainly takes work, understanding and humility.  And, of course, it is worth it when it turns out well, and the two of you manage to get along (mostly) and respect each other. Besides, it’s cool having a new best friend.

19: Web sites

Our little school needs a better website, with pages for each teacher’s classes so students and parents can be up-to-date and informed about what is happening in class. So, it was suggested early in the year that teachers each create their own class Websites- yeah, right! Some of us teachers do not know how to go about doing that! At our staff meeting a few weeks ago, someone brought up the suggestion that we have a training session on building a Web site during our upcoming staff development day. I felt my hand, completely apart from the rest of my body OR my mind, raise into the air to volunteer to teach this session to the rest of our faculty. I do not know how that happened. It was not me. I have sworn not to volunteer. I failed.

Well, I had a Web site I had been slowly putting together for my doctoral dissertation reseach project. I sat down and finished it so I would have some practical experience in Web site building with one of the free Web site creator programs on the Web, that also will host your site for free. I created a very short Powerpoint presentation for an introduction, but I intended for the class to be hands-on. I HATE sitting in staff development where the presenter reads the Powerpoint slides to the audience. I wanted the participants to be able to actually start working on a Web site, on the spot.

That is exactly what we did. Everyone signed on to the site, and registered for a new Web site, chose their nifty, pre-designed template backgrounds, added pages to their sites, and started adding content. It seemed to go quite well, and I know that every participant was able to actually begin building a site, even if they were not completed during class. The sites are all established, and now teachers can work on exactly what they want to go on their sites for parents and students. Then, of course, the objective is to link each teacher’s site to the “official” Al Akhawayn Website for the School of Ifrane. This is what will provide us with a better and more useful Website for the clients we serve!

Even though I volunteered, I think this time it did not blow up in my face. It might have even been a good thing!