The Day I Didn’t Get The Joke

Instead of getting the joke – I gave a Long Form.  Here’s what the student wrote.

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Daniel (not his real name) asked for a Short Form, so I gave him a Long Form.  I should have laughed it off because it was not actually a problem.  Not every behavior is a problem that needs to be dealt with.

I did not get the joke because at the time Daniel and I were experiencing two different classrooms:  I was experiencing one where a student was challenging my authority and disrespecting me.  Daniel was experiencing one where he was making a light-hearted joke to a favorite teacher.  Both realities cannot be true at the same time.  I do not know for him, but my perception was altered by the fact that I was still frustrated by the actions of another student a few minutes prior.  I was upset and probably waiting for a student to do anything that would allow me to show my authority.

A class has a certain vibe that you just have to feel in order to make good discipline decisions.   You have to know when to act, when to laugh, when to give a referral, when to give a Short Form, or when to let it slide.  It sounds like a daunting task but it’s not – at least it’s not if you don’t overthink it.  Basically you just need to be in a good mood and you’ll make good decisions.

In teaching there are moments when you have to laugh.  There are moments when you have to get the joke.

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5 responses to “The Day I Didn’t Get The Joke

  1. I’ve been there. Your instincts are right…but sometimes we have bad days. We’re human, too! If we can just be honest with kids like Daniel when WE screw up and overreact, it tends to build greater respect.

  2. I agree Elaine. We don’t have act like we are right all the time. One great part of using some type of reflection form is that the student has to stay after class to have you sign it. So when Daniel came up to me after class, I was able to apologize for the overreaction.

  3. Excellent post! I think we all need to accept that we make mistakes, and that it’s okay as long as we then deal with it honestly. Personally, I’ve found apologizing to a student / class if I’ve made a mistake has built some really strong relationships. Sometimes I think teaching our pupils this stuff (by actually doing it ourselves) is the most important and powerful thing we can give them… although obviously maths comes a pretty close second : )

  4. Well said Nyima – we teach a lot of lessons that are not a part of our lesson plan, and are based more on who we are rather than what we know.

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