March 16, 2012
What is it about the hate/love relationship in the classroom? I can not explain it although I have my theories. My classroom is a group of wonderful students who are dealing with high poverty, high mobility, and multiple changes in their lives at all time. They do care about school and their parents care even more but chaos is more the norm than not. It is that family chaos that spills over into the classroom quite often. It does not take much to set off the 29 of them.
Today was just such a day. It was picture day (which means no uniforms), a Friday, two birthdays in the class this weekend and the weather was way to warm for mid March in Minnesota. We made it through the first hour and our pictures but as we moved into the day the volume knob on the classroom seem to be stuck on 12. The calm working relationships were dissolving and the small not so hidden notes were beginning to move around the room. It’s fourth grade remember so the notes are “don’t you like me?” “I am not talking to you for the rest of my life” ” you broke my heart and you can’t come to my party tomorrow”. As any good teacher I pulled the offending three girls aside, chatted with them and thought it was resolved. Oh no – it continued to play out during writing class so by our lunch at 1:40 pm I finally lost it with them having missed to much instructional time to upset girls. They stayed in for lunch and made calls home to alert their parents of their off task behavior.
The three girls were furious with me. The hate looks were so strong I really had to just walk away so I did not show them how funny I thought they looked. They were working so hard to be mean and tough girls. They did not care what I thought – or so their body language told me. They talked to their parents. I talked to the parents as well about the need for their support to help their student get back on track to the work at hand. We had reading and math to do. They were distracting others who had work to do. I thanked them of helping me with their student and we returned to class.
Here is where the hate/love confuses me. A few minutes earlier they were in hate mood. After a short call and a return to work all three girls are hanging on my arms as I start the afternoon read aloud to the class. If you had just walked in the room you would have thought it was a love fest. They are sitting close to me at math and asking how they were doing in their writing journals. By the end of the day, it is way to hot in the room, I am drooping from working to keep students in line, I have used a voice that is way to loud and strong for my liking but as we head down the hall to the computer lab. The class as a whole and especially my three friends begin to express what a great teacher I am. “The best they have ever had!”
I just stop and wondered – Hmm – I just got made at them, called several parent, sent notes home and I was sending them home with home work on a beautiful March weekend. I was sure they hated me but no it seems I have won their hearts.
What is it about love and hate in a fourth grade classroom?