A Lesson on Perseverance
Note: The names of the people involved in these events have been altered to protect their privacy.
J.P. McWilliams is an energetic little dude in one of my science classes. He loves to answer questions enthuasiastically all the time, which is why I noticed he was chewing gum yesterday. I asked him to spit it into the garbage, partway through whatever I was saying, without even missing a beat. I take pride in my eagle-eye gum-radar. Kids are always amazed that I can detect the most subtle gum-chewing, even when they think they are being very stealthful.
So J.P. got up out of his seat and spit the gum into the garbage pail. Well, I didn’t actually watch him spit it out. Perhaps he did not. Because about fifteen minutes later, the little bugger was chewing gum again. Of course I noticed again, because, as I mentioned earlier, I have an excellent gum-radar. This time I walked over and quite angrily asked him to kindly spit out his gum. I told him how disappointed I was that he would not listen to me the first time and then I WATCHED as he took the pink wad out of his mouth and placed it sheepishly into the garbage receptacle.
I only taught that boy for a 45 minute period that day and damned if I didn’t notice, five minutes before the end of class, that he was CHEWING GUM AGAIN! I was livid. I felt disrespected. I marched over to J.P. and I put my hands on my hips and I waved my finger. His face turned very red. I told him, “You have GOT to be KIDDING me! You may think that I am MADE of patience, but I AM NOT! Now spit out that gum right now!” He did. I watched VERY VERY carefully. “I would like to see you after school today, please, J.P.”
J.P. did not come to see me after school.
I e-mailed his mother.
J.P. came to see me the next morning (this morning).
We sat down and I explained very calmly why I felt so upset. I was more upset at the blatant disrespect and lack of adherence to my instructions. J.P. nodded in agreement. He took the latex gloves I handed him and began to scrape gum off of the under side of the desks, as I’d instructed. I thought, “This will definitely do the trick. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Well, done Melissa.”
At lunch, I was in the staff room chatting with some other staff members, including a supply teacher who was in for the week. She mentioned which classes she’d taught that morning and who was giving her trouble. “Do you know J.P.?” she asked me. “Yes,” I replied.
“Well,” she said, “I had to ask him TWO TIMES to spit out whatever he was chewing!”