Last Friday, I was so disappointed and frustrated with my morning block 8th grade Spanish 1 class that I made myself physically ill.
Here’s the backstory: As part of their Spanish teaching project, the students were asked during the previous class to take the 30-word vocabulary list they developed for their project, and create a short activity to help their classmates review the words. Not only did I explain the instructions verbally, I also wrote the instructions on the board, and posted them to the homework bulletin board online. When Friday’s class arrived, none of the students had prepared an activity. Not one. Nadie. I was so frustrated, I shut down. I counted to ten. I felt like crying, and told the class as much. Finally, I told the students that each of them would receive a zero for not completing the assignment. Following all of that, I assigned them to work in pairs and write dialogue-skits. Nobody said a word. Not one. Nadie.
Ten minutes had passed. I looked around the room. The expressions on the students’ faces broke my heart, and made me feel yucky. I couldn’t end class, and the year, like this. So, I asked the students to stop what they were doing, at which point the following conversation took place:
MP: “Clase, I don’t want to be mad at you.”
S1: “We don’t want you to be mad at us, Miss Profe.”
MP:” Clase, what was it about my explanation and my instructions that you did not understand? Where was I not clear with respect to what I asked you to do?”
S1: “I couldn’t access my email account. For some reason, it doesn’t work from home.”
S2: “Yeah. The same for me.”
S3: “When you told us about the activity, I thought you meant that we would work on it in class. So, I did not work on it at home.”
S4: “I read the instructions on the homework bulletin board, but did not read them very carefully. So, I missed the part about creating an activity at home.”
S5: “I have no excuse, Miss Profe. My bad.”
It was truly a Master Card moment. And the last student comment? Priceless.
We continued the conversation:
MP: “Clase, I know you’re tired. I’m tired. There’s one more week of school. And, you know what? It’s ok. And, nobody will receive a zero.”
S1: “Thank you, Miss Profe.”
MP: “You’re welcome. And clase, I apologize for getting so upset.”
S6: “It’s ok, Miss Profe. We understand.”
MP: “Well, thank you. I appreciate that. However, as your teacher, I should have better managed my emotions.”
S4: “Miss Profe, I’ve experienced a lot worse. You didn’t even yell.”
S4: “Miss Profe, do you want us to create an activity for the next class?”
MP: “No. It’s ok. But, thank you for offering. Each of you has worked hard on your teaching project. No more needs to be done.”
By this time, it was 8:30. The students resumed work on their dialogue-skits. And, I developed an IBS attack from having been so upset; stress is a trigger. Fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as I have experienced in the past. In fact, it was fairly mild by comparision. I sipped some water, and worked through the pain. I felt progressively better as the day wore on. However, it took a 24 hour period and a good night’s rest for me to fully recover.
The entire event was certainly a sign from Above, and a lesson in humility.