That is my dilemma.
Every now and again, I have conflicting feelings about whether I should be sharing some of my work-related experiences with people who don't know me personally. Those people won't know how earnest I am about my work, or how defensive I can get when it comes to my kids. They are children, after all, and I wouldn't want to come across as ridiculing or exploiting them in any way.
But on the other hand, they say and do some of the most bizarrely entertaining (albeit strange) things I've ever heard and seen. And I sort of want the public to know that there's so much more to teaching than, well, teaching...in the textbook sense of the word. Sometimes, its a sociology experiment gone awry.
With that disclaimer, I throw caution to the wind, and I give you the first glimpse into the second semester. It is the story of the girl who tried to decapitate me with a single piece of paper.
Ok, I'm exaggerating on the decapitation part of it...but still, it was pretty strange.
School had just reconvened from winter recess, and it was maybe a Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Nobody had their mojo yet, and some of the kids were just out of sorts. Totally understandable. Then there were those kids who were so elated to be back, they couldn't contain their emotions. Or their need for attention.
My second hour class was just finishing up their bell work, and I was preparing to begin the days lesson. As I directed the students to put their journals away and take out their notes, "Jane" jumped up out of her seat, and walked up to where I was standing at the front of the room. She squared up to me a mere six to eight inches from my face, planted herself, and just stared.
This, believe it or not, is the type of behavior that will usually extinguish itself if I ignore it long enough. I just have to act like her behavior is completely normal. But "Jane" was steadfast in her staring, and I started to get annoyed. I was forced to address it. Casually, I whispered to "Jane" out of the side of my mouth:
"Jane, I need you to sit down and take out your notes. We're starting the lesson now."
Jane: "I'm staring at you."
Me : "I see that, Jane. I need you to go to your seat and take out your notes."
Jane: "I'm staring at you. I'm staring at you and you're panicking."
Me: "Panicking? I simply asked you to sit down and take out your notes."
Jane: "You're panicking. I can tell. You're a panicking person."
Me: (annoyed, but not panicking) "That's enough, Jane. Sit down please."
Jane: "You're so panicking. You're talking a lot, I can tell."
Me: "It's not panic, Jane. It's annoyance. I need to start class."
Jane: "Oh. Most people don't like to be stared at."
Me : "I'm used to it. I have over 150 pairs of eyes on me every day."
Jane: "Oooohhhhhhh. I get it. I'll have to think of something else."
Normally, "Jane" is a really nice kid, if a little needy, so I was sort of surprised by this antagonistic streak that she was displaying. But I am the eye of the hurricane; the haystack into which flaming arrows disappear with the faintest wisp of smoke. I remained cool and measured, even though she clung to me for the rest of the hour.
Finally, as the bell was about to ring, I asked the kids to turn in their "door pass." Most of the kids crammed the paper into my hand and were off to their third period with no hesitation. All except for "Jane", who stood in front of me, (can you guess?) and stared.
I stared at her.
She stared at me.
She concentrated. Then she reached out...ever so slowly.... paper hovering weightlessly in space....and tried to poke me in the neck.
"Jane! That's enough! You need to respect boundaries. If I can stick my arms out and touch you, you're too close!"
"Ok! Sorry Ms. G!"
And she was gone.