Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monitor and Adjust

Out of all my classes, sixth period is not only the biggest group of kids, it is also decidedly the most lively. More interesting stories and quotes come out of this particular class than any other fifty-minute section of my day.  This entry is devoted to an excellent example of why middle school teachers MUST monitor and adjust......

I have one male student is sixth period who has decided it is appropriate to give me gifts and compliments on a daily basis.  The first day of gift-giving, he walked up to me after class with his hands outstretched and holding a red cut-out of a heart.  "Ms. Herring, I found this on the floor.  I thought you should have it."  In my head I said, Actually you spent more of my lesson today cutting this out than listening.  But I responded, "Why, thank you.  I'll take care of that."
The next day, he came in with one of those initial keychains.  "Ms.  Herring, does your name start with an 'A'?  Because I found this..."
"No, my name does not start with an 'A', but thank you so much."

The next day, since gift-giving was obviously getting him nowhere, he decided to up the ante, with a little help from his fellow band geeks, of course.  Another boy who sits near our friendly, sixth period gift-giver looked up as I was helping another student and exclaimed, "Oh my gosh, Ms. Herring!  Your eyes..."  I looked at him quizzically, wondering if he was going to have an appropriate explanation for this little outburst.  His response was, "Your eyes....they're grey."  My eyes, by the way, are not grey.  They're green.  However, another girl at the table chimed in to the conversation, "Yeah, Ms. Herring!  We've been trying to figure out what color your eyes are for like a week!"  At this point, I was going to attempt to steer attention back to the lesson.  But before I could do anything, my sixth period gift-giver blurted out, in his loudest voice, "I know what color they are!  They're beautiful!"  Every middle school head in the room whipped around to see how I would handle this situation.  In my mind I'm thinking, I MEAN, HOW DO I RESPOND TO THAT?! So, doing everything I could to avoid reacting, I simply said, "Well thank you," and moved to the other side of the room.  My sixth period gift-giver has faithfully kept up the compliments everyday since.  I've come to expect it on a regular basis, and my reply is always the same.  "Thank you so much."  With a smile, of course.

I'm sure this semester will yield several more stories from sixth period, but this is, by far, the best one
from any class period of the semester so far.  What I've learned from sixth period, in this particular situation, and in several other smaller ordeals, is this: Middle school teachers must ALWAYS monitor and adjust.  In life, just like in class, you never know what will get thrown at you, whether it's a gift with someone else's initial on it or an unexpected compliment.  Sometimes, you just have to laugh and go with it.  The past six months of my own life have been filled with one unexpected event after another.  I never, in a million years, would have thought I would be right where I'm at in this moment.  But I can honestly say that I've never been happier, and I wouldn't change a thing.  I went with it.  Flexibility is key in life, and it's key in the classroom.  I just have to always remember to monitor and adjust.

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