October has begun dreary and damp so I’ll invite you to come in and share a warm cup of coffee. Hard to believe September has come and gone- and school has been in session for a month already! What a month it was! This year I have started working with a different head teacher in the mornings who has been quite challenging to work with. She is just a few years younger than me and has been teaching in the school for over 30 years. It is unfortunate she has not updated her methods of discipline and connecting with the children, instead choosing to use methods from the 1960s’s, such as berating, punishing, ostracizing and assuming the child is guilty rather than innocent when something out of line occurs. I found myself running interference trying to stop situations before they occurred in order to save a child from her wrath throughout the first week of school. Did I mention she is a bully? That she bullies other teachers to get her way, and has never learned the meaning of compromise. She barks orders instead of asking nicely when she wants something done. Another issue was her adding to my “assisting duties” things that fell under her job description not mine, but she has gotten away with doing this for years because her assistants were young and afraid of her and never spoke up. Until this year. How to deal with a bully? Bully her back. We had a very heated exchange of words in which I told her right out I would not be bullied into doing her work, and that her classroom was a room filled with tension and unrealistic expectations of 1st graders, citing some choice examples. I pretty much got it all out on the table. To say she was shocked is an understatement. I felt great having gotten it off my chest. Surprisingly she must have taken some of what I said to heart as since then there has been a lighter air about the class, though I do still need to run interference at times.
I feel so strongly about continuing to grow in our lives, to “get with the program” of what is going on in the today. We have come a long way from the 1960’s and though parts of what we learned then still hold value today, respect for a teacher, being polite, raising a hand to be called on, we have learned that children respond to positive feedback and will learn more as a result of being encouraged. I have learned to phrase things in a way that show the child I believe he can do it, that I want him to be successful even if it means moving his seat because the boy he is sitting next to is distracting him. In any case, that is what took up most of my September and filled my head at night. Here’s a drawing one of the boys gave to me, he told me it’s him and me, I’m the one in the purple.
I would also tell you The Jewish New Year is tomorrow and I have some cooking to do. Two things I make every year are Tsimmes- a mixture of sweet potatoes, carrots, prunes and brown sugar. I also make a cranberry and apple dish with an oatmeal crust that can be served as a side dish or for dessert. Both sweet, as we look forward to the new year bringing sweet things.
Fall Sundays mean free concerts in our local libraries and last week my husband and I attended one. I will leave you with a little of what we heard, and hope you have a great Sunday!