She's back! (Don't get too excited... don't know how long it'll last.)
This weeks assignment: Another people-watching exercise this week! This time, let’s listen! Choose a stranger and do your best to overhear what they say, and then write it down. It can be on the phone, to someone else, or even them talking to themselves. What does their voice, word choice, or tone tell you about them? Feel free to write their exact words OR write it as you would for fictional dialogue. By now you guys know the rules aren’t what’s important, but the experience!
I'm kind of cheating. I hadn't read the assignment for this week (since I'd slacked off for two weeks, it was depressing to read others' stuff), but I overheard a good conversation this morning. After reading the assignment, I'm going to do my best from memory.
Today is parent conference day. Not for our students, but for our homeroom kids; we're discussing next year's schedule and blah-blah. Not the most fun way to spend your Saturday, but I'm getting paid. And, as you can see, there is a lot of free time.
The teacher next to me had a conference right after my first left. I was catching up on Twitter, but my ears perked up when I heard her say, "First, Student, I have a question for you. Why didn't you go to the office yesterday when I sent you?"
Wow. This was much more involved than I was planning on being with any of my students. (Honestly, half of them? I don't know their names.)
I didn't eavesdrop on the whole conversation, but the father's voice drifted from her table to mine several times. I liked the dad's voice -- it was firm, no-nonsense, tough.
"You call her Ms. Teacher, not 'her.' Her name is Ms. Teacher. She's not one of your friends, one of those girls you hang out with -- you don't talk about her that way. She's your teacher. You talk to her with respect."
I wish I could remember the other things he said. He laid down the law -- what the teacher says, goes. Period, end of story.
I liked hearing him talk to his son with respect, but a firm hand. The father was not going over the top, making grand, sweeping statements and announcing unreasonable expectations. This did not come across as a show for the benefit of the teacher -- the "I've neglected your discipline for years, but NOW we're going to make some serious changes, YOU HEAR ME?" chest-beating rant. He also wasn't boasting abuse: "Ms. Teacher is going to email me every week and let me know if you're behaving or not. And if you are not behaving, if she says you do one thing wrong in class, if you forget to say, 'Bless you' when she sneezes, you know what's going to happen, don't you? Yeah, you know. You're not going to be able to sit down for a week. Don't worry, Ms. Teacher, I'll make sure this never happens again."
He wasn't like that. I believed this dad. This wasn't a show, this was parenting.
But he still made me think of all the other times I've sat through a parent chewing his kid out just for my (the teacher's) benefit. The times when the parent has let me know that things are going to change, because he's going to beat the kid if he misbehaves again. And how much the parent values education, and how hard teachers work, and how teachers need to be respected... and then nothing changes. The kid acts the same way, gets the same grades, and the parent never follows up. Because the parent said all those things to look good, but he takes the kid's side at home. And, directly, indirectly, consciously, unconsciously, the parent teaches the kid that teachers do not need to be respected. That they are inconsequential. If the teacher doesn't do what we say, we just go over her head.
I don't know if you can tell, but I had a very unpleasant conversation with a very unpleasant mother before I wrote that paragraph. So the post I originally sat down to write, about the parent at the table next to me, kind of went away after the mother at my table had her say. This was several hours ago, and it's still with me. Every other conversation I have had today with a parent has been pleasant. The mother waiting to speak to me while the other woman chewed me out was very sweet to me. But none of those exchanges are going to stay with me; the unpleasant mother, and her unpleasant child, are what are going to stay with me.
I have an hour and 45 minutes before I can go home.
I hope I don't have any horrid typos in this post, because I'm not in the mood to reread (because I'll edit too much). So, there is it. Nekkid.