My hole punch was jamming today while kids were trying to put papers into their binders, and I intelligently attempted to fix it during class. I’m not sure why I bothered to take class time to do this. I never would have let a kid stop class to fix a hole puncher, but apparently it was okay for me to disrupt my planning to do so. As would happen in such a scenario, the plastic bottom piece came off, showering me and my floor with hundreds of little white paper circles that are impossible to corral. If a student were to do this, I would a) be incredibly irritated, b) make him clean it up c) …after class, to punish him for disrupting class and making a mess. Instead I have to hide my internal irritation, hear students say things like, “Aw, it’s pretty – like confetti!” and inwardly curse my clumsiness/poor time management skills.
After trying to clean up while lecturing on components of a speech, I reflected on other double standards I hold in my classroom. I can drink coffee and munch goldfish crackers all day in my class, but students can only have water bottles. I can write in my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird but if I see so much as a dog-eared page in theirs, public humiliation will ensue. I feel kind of sorry for them at times…especially in a regular grade-level English class, where the behavioral expectations are so rigid that they can’t make any mistakes without it crashing down on them. I know there are some privileges that follow the “because I’m the teacher” motivation, but I think I am far more likely to make a mess in my classroom than they are. I almost want to flip the rules – they can drink soda in class but I can’t even have water lest I spill on my keyboard?
Then again, it could just be Mondays. I ran into one of our veteran teachers in the copy room this morning while unjamming it for the third time, and told her my first year was fun, if tricky. She told me she cried most nights her first year teaching. I’m not entirely sure if I feel encouraged by this (I haven’t cried yet) or incredibly bummed (I’ll cry yet?) . . . at least if I do cry, I’ll walk to the trash to throw my tissue away. I’ll avoid attempting to make a basket with my kleenex and miss. Nothing is a bigger distraction in class that flying garbage.