Monday, December 18, 2006

The White Flag

Part of being a sane teacher is knowing when to surrender.

The dynamic in a regular classroom is always an equilibrium of power between two parties: the teacher and about 30 odd children. Generally, the teacher struggles to varying degrees for the control over the activities of the classroom. Some might argue this is undiplomatic, however, I would argue that the alternative is anarchy. And a good teacher fights the good fight to defeat anarchy each and every day. Some days it’s not a hard fight, other days she may come out in the end with muddied hands and soiled hair and a beaten heart. Some days she goes at it with fresh energy and other days she begins the journey destined to fail.

This afternoon, I was standing next to a colleague, observing some of my star students behaving badly. She laughed at my puzzled expression and reminded me, “It’s the week before Christmas, Melissa.” That’s all the explanation I need. The equilibrium has tipped in the other direction for these last five days of school before the holidays. The monster has stirred and I can, as a teacher, grab on to its thrashing head and dig my heels in, or I can stand back and watch and just keep out of its way.

The white flag goes up.
The movie goes in the VCR.
No sudden moves and no one gets hurt.

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