Of students & teachers (Of egos & emotions)
I am realizing how emotionally involved I am when it comes to the students, and I don’t necessarily like this development. It seems best to me to carry a certain kind of stoicism when dealing with excessive teenage hormones, especially the ones that rub off the wrong way. I don’t want to lose my cool because when that happens I have very less control over what proceeds out of my mouth, and I might just say something terrible that breaks their young hearts or spirits. Teaching is a hard job, and I am only beginning to experience its challenges. I need so much of patience, and to use that patience I need so much of wisdom. And while I learn how to do that, what of the mistakes that I am making in the process? It is a fine line to walk.
I recently had a very annoying experience involving egos: my ego as the teacher and therefore the “superior” by default, and a student’s ego as the vanity-ridden teenager. I speak in extremes because when emotions are fully charged up attributes manifest in their excessive forms, although otherwise they are generally moderated by propriety-guided social relationships. So anyway, I was furious at the student because of his slighting and quite upset by the disregard shown to me. I spoke out of those assaulted feelings in my effort to make him realize what he was doing was not appreciated at all. And I believe those words came out as an insult, to the student I was addressing and to everybody else in the room. So he clammed up, disguising it in a pretense of indifference and coolness. But I was not in a position to empathize at that moment, obviously owing to my fury. In retrospect, it was a major mistake on my part as a teacher. I failed to communicate, and I chose my ego over the interest of my student. I remained upset about it later on, also quite hurt because he was one of the students I was closer to, and alarmed and uncomfortable that I had let things come to this. I shouldn't take such matters too seriously, I told myself. I should maintain relationships with students only within the confines of the classroom, I reasoned. After a couple of days this student apologized, and the magic it did. Now we're like the best student-teacher again, if you know what I mean. But I feel like I must also clear the air from my side. Maybe this would be how I establish the nature of communication I desire with my students.
So then, what have I come out with after all this? This “communication” I want does involve an element of emotional engagement. I couldn't possibly completely avoid it, and to navigate through the student-teacher relationships in light of this in a judicious manner is definitely going to prove to be tricky. You couldn't expect me to arrive at a solution right away, could you? Or ever, for that matter..