Monday, September 14, 2009

No Prisoners

Ms. No Nonsense runs a tight classroom. Anyone walking in can hear a pin drop any time during the forty five minute session. Her rows are straight and no one dares to answer a question without raising a hand and waiting to be called on. Ms. No Nonsense would put any army drill sergeant to shame.

During the first few days of school, everyone is organizing classes and setting up routines that will hopefully lead to a successful year. Ms. No Nonsense is the Queen. No one is better. Until today, until I overheard the following, I aspired to be like her when and if I ever grew up and became a real teacher.

Ms. No Nonsense: (yelling) Why aren't there five chairs in this row? Where do you think you will sit?

Class: Dead silence

Ms. Nonsense: (Still yelling) Don't tell me you forgot where you are sitting? How can you start the year like this? I can't deal with this. You should know where you are supposed to sit.

At that point, I walked away.

My classes always begin with rows but by the time we start working, the kids are sitting everywhere. They move their chairs to see the board, they move their chairs to sit with the kids they want to work with, or they move the chairs because they want to move them. I have one student who told me he likes variety and I told him he could change positions as often as he wants. You can never hear a pin drop in my room and I hardly ever yell. I prefer a warm, fuzzy environment to a police state. I can learn better when I am not afraid. I guess I am assuming (something I know I should never do) that others feel the same. I remember one of my high school math teachers, Mr. Levine (his real name) ran the class like Ms. Nonsense. The only thing I remember from that whole year is my prayer that the dumb girl would not be absent because I feared I would be next to feel his wrath.

Along with comfort, I like laughter in the room. As much as I love math, I realize that many others do not share this love. If I can make the class fun and entertaining, I can keep them coming and keep them working. Maybe through laughter, I can get them to at least not hate or fear the subject.

As another year starts, I see that I am already not going to be able to keep the vow I made to myself about being structured and disciplined. I can never be like Ms. No Nonsense. She takes no prisoners.


Schoolgal said...

I am soooo bad with names I really did use my seating charts when I was a cluster. Even by the end of the year, I still had problems with the names.

This teacher sounds like she is ready to go out to pasture.

Noel said...

Good for you. It's really disturbing to me that teachers act like this Ms. No-Nonsense. It makes me think that they're in teaching for the wrong reasons. I like the sound of your class, and it's clear from what you write that you really care about your kids -- as whole individuals, not just as "students" who need to "perform". It makes me really sad that people like your Ms. No-Nonsense are reinforcing the feeling that so many kids already have that school is just something they've got to endure. The world needs a LOT more people like you, who actually give a damn and have their heads screwed on straight.