Disciplinary Actions

Welcome back folks. I am in a little bit of a rush to get this post out of the door this week. I will be attending a native Hungarian festival Friday through Sunday. It’s one of those fancy festivals with hundreds of years of history and tradition and penises on sticks. What? What was that thing about the phallic poles? Really I’m not sure what your fascination is with that one aspect of things. There is going to be drinking and revelry and fire and hand carved masks and wooden noise makers and all you want to hear about is the naughty bits. Really, Margaret, I didn’t realize this is how you act around penile imagery. Get ahold of yourself, everyone is staring. Anyway, if I don’t finish this now, the chances are it won’t get done for another week. I can’t do that, I have imaginary deadlines that I have to stick to for mildly nonsensical reasons. For those of you who are actually interested in hearing about said crazy festival, there will be a full report on said adventure in some blog post in the far flung future. At the rate that this blog is coming along look forward to reading about it sometime around Thanksgiving. What an interesting opening I have prepared for you all today, wouldn’t you agree? All of this talk about genitalia is truly the best means of introducing my main topic today which is children. Truly, I a master of theming, witness my genius.

Back to the glacial narrative I weave. Because no celestial event had impacted the flow of time, the second week of teaching had proceeded towards its expected point of cessation. Truth be told, the portion of the job that involved me interacting with the students had actually gone well. The multiple teacher format had served me well, making classes fun for me and fun for the students. It even felt that by the end of the week they had improved their language skills if ever so slightly. Somewhat less of a resounding success, the lesson planning continued to be a source of unending suffering and ill spent hours. However, with the close of the week, the period of time that I was set to have in class supervision had also drawn short. This meant that I was staring down the barrel of being let loose into the teaching pits with only my wits to save me. I learned as many lessons as I could in those first two weeks. The training wheels though were soon to come off, and this baby bird was about to be mercilessly ejected from the nest. Each week from here on out I would be solely in charge of the English education of these children. Flap those nubbins faster little birdy.

I had made every preparation I was able to, and then the moment was upon me. It was minutes before 8:00 Monday morning and there I sat in my classroom with sixteen empty seats before me. I had gotten there early to make everything ready for my lessons. As the clock signified those passing seconds, the students began to trickle in. By the moment the bell rang I had sixteen seats filled with children who I had met, but in no way remembered the names of. This is what you may recognize as minor problem. I did moderately well at playing it cool, finding as many creative ways to sidestep the use of actual names. I am not terribly ashamed or worried about not memorizing the names of over one hundred students Hungarian is a difficult language which unsurprisingly has different naming conventions from English. Fun fact, Hungarian surnames come first followed by given names. In addition to that is the fact that the five vowels that we have in English are subdivided with various accent marks to make twelve distinct sounds that I cannot tell the differences between. I reiterate that Hungarian is a difficult language.

Anyway, back to the solo classes. In many ways those first lessons alone were very similar to the week prior. The children were terribly loud shriekbeasts sliding their way through the hallways in a cacophonous mess. When in class, the quiet kids were silent and the smartasses intelligent butted. The only real difference was that there was the conspicuous absence of a safety net in case of unexpected falls. The children were very smart; they followed instructions, and listened to the things that I asked of them. All seemed to be proceeding with only minor issues. As school neared its final bell students became restless and less receptive to orders. It was small things at first, things that a knowledgeable instructor would end immediately but a less knowledgeable one would let slide. Residing firmly in the latter category, I allowed inklings of control to slip loose through my fingers.

Monday dragged its burden of work through to Friday, and on each subsequent day it was a similar scene. Because, like prisoners, middle schoolers can feel a lack of discipline as a tingling in their spine, the number of liberties taken with the rules was on the rise. Like untrained dogs they will run with as much of a leash as you give them. A precedent was being set with every choice of inactivity. I did not display a strong control over my wards early on in the year. Ground was lost in every battle for supremacy of the classroom, and I hadn’t even realized there was a competition. These are all observations that I could only make through informed hindsight though. This process proceeded invisibly before my eyes.

I had been stripped of the Hungarian symbol of power which was my lifeline to controlling the children. Here’s a bit of knowledge for those of you who are perspective teachers or parents, just because children behave in front of a person sitting next to you it does not mean that they will behave for you once that person leaves. The reason everything seemed so easy in those first two weeks was because the Hungarian teachers were present and ready to stifle dissent. At times I very much miss that degree of control that I wielded and squandered in the beginning. Every mile lost to the opposing front has been a bloody sortie that I have had to fight to regain.

More than just a lack of experience led me to acquiesce to the little goblins in my classroom. In my everyday life, I am just the most relaxed person. I do not get annoyed or angry with other people under normal circumstances. I’m cool like a cucumber, probably because I seek to avoid conflict and am fond of the color green. I internalized much of the annoyance. In relationships, I hope this leads to me being an understanding and forgiving person in all things. However in a teaching position, this is the opposite attitude of what will help you. You don’t have to be mean, just have a measure of stern resolve. Interpersonal conflict is just as much of the job as actually teaching new things. I attempted a soft touch as much as I could, and it was not the right tact without a base of discipline already intact. I had to change my reactions to stressful situations. The lack of discipline is a problem that will get much worse before it gets better, but don’t worry that part is going to be written soon enough.

If it sounds like I am negative about children, I’ll let those of you who do not know me in person in on a little secret. I am not a big fan of children. In fact throughout my adult life and most of my adolescence I have been doing my best to avoid them in every way shape and form in my personal life. Now, don’t get me wrong I have nephews and… cousins? Second cousins? I’m not sure what my relation is to the offspring of my cousins is, but them. I have a few of those. (First cousin once removed, thank you Google. Now don’t let me hear you say you didn’t learn anything from this blog.) I do have familial relations from baby to middle teens, so I am speaking from hopefully a range of experience. I have opinions about children that are not actually popular with those in my life who possess itlings. I do not find them cute or sweet simply by virtue of them being smaller humans. I see them as miniature adults who have not learned morality or basic human decency.  Therefore the merits of being within shouting distance of a child is entirely dependent on said child’s individual personality and it is not entirely a given that I will tolerate proximity to a shrieking hellbeast. This is fine for children I am related to, ones I get to see often. I am able to observe them in their natural state and get to know who they are as human beings. Then I get to judge accordingly.

To those of you who love children, love to hold them, to play with them, and either have or one day wish for a baker’s dozen of them, I likely sound like a heartless Grinch monster hating on all of the little miracles living and breathing around us. I don’t hate children; I just refuse to give them the benefit of the doubt. I would apologize if I were sorry. However, this is my blog which equates to you perusing my ideals.

All of that concern about my lesson plans, I mean it was well worth the investment of time, don’t get me wrong. The problem I most faced was an internal struggle. My success in this enterprise entirely depended upon me fighting the laziness within. I allowed myself to be led down the path of least conflict. As I was still developing my teaching legs, I was worried about halting the progress of the entire classroom just to deal with a mildly disruptive child. This is a dumb fear that is counterproductive to the healthy flow of a class. It concerned me so much though, because I was still secretly terrified of standing in front of a classroom with nothing happening. All of the teachers who I asked for advice told me methods I could take towards fix my issues. However, I am more of a kinesthetic learner and just hearing something does not mean it passes into my brain. I had to suffer my way through all of the misbehavior to get where I am now.

Ok, I hear what some of you are thinking loudly at the screen. Mr. Miscellaneist, if that is your real name, why would a self professed child disliker want to take a position where the job description is to literally be surrounded by said miniature animals all of the time. To this I respond that Mr. Miscellaneist is my father, just call my Misc. You’ve been inside some of my deep head thoughts; we could probably drop the formalities. To answer the previous question though, it was everything surrounding the position which enticed me into application. Also, money isn’t exactly a deterrent in this case.

Please excuse me while I take a little time for a peak behind the curtain as it were. So, seeing as it has been over a week without a post, I appeared to have missed my deadline for this last week. I apologize for being late in my work. Surprise of surprises and wonder of wonders, I somehow managed to misuse the time I had set aside to get this blog done early. Do forgive the tardy nature of my composition. For once though, the reason for my delay has been that I have been out living my life as opposed to retreating into an internet fueled spiral of laziness. Hopefully I am not begrudged too much for making this judgment call. To all of my eager readers out there I do plan on making up for lost ground and writing another post to be published this week. As always a special thanks to those of you who tune in to my misadventures. To you I say, good day, good night, and good reading.

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