Monday, February 23, 2009

"You Would Cry to If It Happened to You!"

"It's my [classroom], and I'll cry if I want to,
Cry if I want to, Cry if I want to,
You would cry to if it happened to YOU!"

(from "It's My Party" by Walter Gold, John Gluck Jr., Herb Wiener)

Yes, I admit it. I have had a class bring me to tears. In fact, I've had more than one class bring me to tears, but then I never broke down in front of the students before. I guess there is a first time for everything with this subbing journey of mine.

For starters, I had this fourth grade class earlier in the month. I had a certain dread when I accepted the second assignment because I remember it being a rough bout before, but then I had just come away with an improved experience on my second go-round with that troublesome first grade class. I figured this would surely be a better experience too, but I was wrong. It was worse! I was so beside myself with their disobedience.

I released the class at the end of the day and stayed after to finish my report and do a little cleaning up. As I set at my desk writing, the tears began to flow. Not everyone had exited the classroom yet and my hope was that the few who were left would be so occupied about leaving that they wouldn't notice my tears which I so desperately wanted to hide. I heard some whispering, then scampering, and then the children got very quite. It was ever so noticeable because it hadn't been quiet all day.

All of a sudden a flood of empathy came my way with apologies being voiced from left and right. Students asked if they could stay to help clean up in an attempt to offer some kind of penance for their previous wrongdoing. This was new to me. I hadn't thought of crying as a way to keep a class in check. I had obviously drawn attention to my disappointment, but the children really needed to go. One boy stepped forward, thoughtfully, and sincerely he expressed a heartfelt apology, "The entire class is sorry, Mrs. Blair." I didn't look up. I couldn't. I was so sad at how the day had gone. I tried to still myself, but instead I quietly blubbered as I thanked him.

I always think when I have an experience like this, if they'd just give me a chance, they'd be all about what I could do for their school day. I've done it for so many others, but for whatever reason, I had a group that wouldn't buy into my pitch. I also think if I was their regular teacher, I'd be able to muscle some control with some establish routines, etc. Again, that's not my lot as a substitute. They know I am uncertain about their procedures. They are well aware that I am here today and gone tomorrow so why bother. My one time appearance is nothing in their educational scheme of things, instead, it's PARTY TIME!

Anyway, it was a while before I left the classroom. As I maneuvered across the playground to the school office, I tried to walk with some dignity with my little cart in tow. I call it, HAVE CLASSROOM, WILL TRAVEL. It was filled with my fun positive incentives that I couldn't justify using at all during the day. The weirdness was just too great. As I walked along, some of my students who were staying for the after school program called out to me with a friendly shout and a wave, "Hey! Mrs. Blair! Good-bye!" They had cheerful smiles on their faces. I smiled back and waved. They wanted me to feel better. They really were sorry. I might be a gluten for punishment, but maybe I could do that class again....we'll see?


  1. “The main thing in one's own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry.”
    --Maya Angelou

  2. I know last year we have made a few teachers cry. I feel really bad for those kind of teachers who have to go through that. :(

  3. Those kids sure missed out on getting to know you!!