04 January 2013

Do You Ever Feel Like a Grasshopper?

Remember the movie A Bug's Life? At the end of the movie, the ants realize they far outnumber the big bad grasshoppers, and overthrow them.

Sometimes I feel like a grasshopper. I'm fully aware of how much my students outnumber me. There's really nothing I could do to stop them if they all decided to rebel against me. Of course, I'm a teacher, not an overlord demanding tribute. Nevertheless, some students may still feel oppressed by teachers.

Regardless of whether we're good or bad student lords, we all seem to compensate somehow; we've all come up with tactics to avoid getting overthrown.

Are you a disciplinarian? You set up very strict rules at the beginning of the year with harsh punishments. Everything has a procedure, and you quickly crack down on students not following.

Are you an entertainer? You painstakingly prepare every lesson to have constant stimulation so the students rarely have a moment to get a word out to their friends.

Are you a film buff? Just get them in a dark room with a flickering image and a worksheet forcing them to listen to key words. That'll keep them quiet.

Are you a babysitter? You call on kids to be quiet. They're quiet for a moment. You tell them to be quiet again. Repeat.

Are you a hippie? Big deal if they're out of line. As long as they're not destroying anything or each other, they can talk and move around and interact and play on their phones. That's where the real learning happens, man.

Are you jaded? Some kids will get it, some kids won't. Some kids will behave, others won't. Big deal. It's not like anything ever changes. I'm too busy complaining about faculty meeting to deal with kids.

Are you a military coach? Yell, cuss, throw tantrums, wear gym shorts. These are the real grasshoppers. Discipline through intimidation. Do pushups, run a few laps, take a shower to maximize teenage social awkwardness.

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