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I’m not a yeller. When irritated as a teen, I was at times. I know I was good for the dramatic exit with a huff and a door shut just a bit too hard, but not slammed. I was good with sarcasm, an eye roll, but typically, we didn’t yell.
As a young teacher, I didn’t yell. I talked – a lot. A colleague would tease me because any conversation with my students regarding a wrongdoing tended to take some time and usually ended with them in tears and me giving them a hug. No yelling.
As a parent I am driven to the point of exasperation many times. Sometimes I look at Luke and Liam and sputter, tripping over my words to say, “I think I am going insane.” I might be irritated, I might raise my voice, but I don’t yell
I’m sure yelling has its place, I’m sure it works for some. If it does for you, great. It doesn’t work for me. If and when I’ve ever yelled, I immediately regret it. It feels wrong on me, like I’m trying to put on clothing that doesn’t fit. I feel like I’m trying to control something that is not mine to control – typically someone else’s behavior.
What I do when I am upset is talk. To the point that I am sure I drive people crazy. I talk when I am upset with a student, when I’m upset with myself. I talk when I’m frustrated, sad, excited, stressed. I talk to work through problems and find solutions.
Today a student got in trouble in my room. That doesn’t happen often. I saw the infraction, made a quiet comment, and walked away. Sometimes the talk needs to wait. At that point, I needed to think about it for a bit and, honestly, calm down.
Later, I spoke to my student in the hall. In hushed voices we went over what happened. I wondered if the truth would come out. My student looked at me, paused, and told me exactly what happened honestly. Looking in their eyes, I felt the connection that I don’t think would come if my heart was thumping and my voice was raised. I would have missed it. In the quiet pauses of our conversation I saw what was really there – remorse, worry, sadness. I saw the actions that stemmed from a low self-esteem. We talked some more; some tears fell, and moved on. No yelling.
Today was one of those days. A day that exhausts, frustrates, moves me close to tears. But I’m glad it was also filled with quiet conversations, reflection, apologies, and new beginnings. While my mind is not quiet, my voice is. In our classroom, I think it makes all the difference.