Did I overstep my bounds?

Was I too harsh yesterday?  Did I put down public schooling, too much?  I don’t think so.  I was just saying that I didn’t think little ones who weren’t ready for school should have to be there.  Today, on Facebook I saw a posted video on education.  It’s a Ted Talks video and most of the videos on Ted Talks that I have watched have been pretty good; they usually seem to be people with common sense.  This video is a pep talk for teachers or more accurately a reminder to teachers about the importance of the job they do.  I think it would be a good idea for teachers to watch this and reevaluate their reasons for teaching, making sure that they are the kind of teachers that believe in the kids.

One of the reasons I was not too enthused last Friday subbing the kindergarten class, was because of an incident during recess.  A little boy in my class had taken a football out with him and apparently about halfway through recess there had been some sort of problem regarding said football, either he was taking it away from another little boy or the boy had taken it from him.  I don’t know.  I didn’t see it happen.  What I saw was my guy and the other guy heading straight for a bench with two teachers on it.  My guy was in the lead and I could tell from his demeanor that he was at a breaking point.  I was two benches down so I couldn’t hear any of the complaint, but I could tell he was very emotional, on the verge of crying.  The teacher raised her arm pointing straight out as they neared her.  She wouldn’t hear any of the complaints; she directed them back onto the playground insisting that they solve their differences and that was it.  I did not hear her words, but I could tell from her actions and their responses what transpired.  They turned around and argued all the way back across the 50 feet of concrete.  Just before reaching the other side, their arguing escalated and the pushing, shoving and kicking from both boys began.  The other teacher and I both jumped up and ran to separate the boys.  I grabbed my guy, got down on my knees, looked him in the eyes and began telling him that we do NOT hit each other…  She grabbed her student and dragged him back towards her bench and made him sit out.  My guy was trying to tell me what instigated the argument, but I put my hand up to stop his explanation and repeated that no matter what we do NOT hit others.  I also told him that I had seen him trying to get help and that I was sorry the teacher hadn’t helped him solve the problem, but that he should have walked away instead of getting into a fight since he knew he was so angry.

By this time, the other teacher noticed that I was still on my knees talking to my student and not punishing him as she had done with her student.  She walked back across the concrete, took his hand to take him over to the time out area.  I couldn’t help myself and spoke my mind saying that I had seen him asking for help, that he had realized he was at a point of frustration, a breaking point and instead of getting the help he asked for he had been ignored.  I knew that I was risking making enemies and never being allowed to sub in this school again, but I couldn’t keep quiet when I felt that she had neglected to do the right thing in that situation.  She replied that she had seen the whole thing and that my student had taken the football away from her student.  I didn’t bother to tell her that my student had brought the football out because I didn’t feel like that was the issue here.  I replied that what mattered was that he knew he was upset and had reached out for help and didn’t get it.  I turned and walked back to my bench.  I didn’t try to get him out of his time out, because he had been in a fight and needed some sort of cooling off period.  There was no more discussion between me and the other teacher.

Later in the afternoon, when all of the kindergarteners were at gym class (in which my same little guy would be getting a note for disruptive behavior :-/ ) I needed some clarification of the instructions on the lesson plan my teacher had left for me.  I looked in the classroom next door to mine and lo and behold it was the OTHER teacher’s classroom!  At first I backed out to go find someone else to ask, but then I decided, “No, be brave, don’t run away.”  By this time, I had calmed down a little and wondered if I had overreacted at all.  I didn’t really feel like it, but I could see how the actual teachers might feel like me, a lowly sub had overstepped my bounds.  So, I peeked back into her classroom and I said, “Excuse me, I’d like to apologize if I overstepped my bounds earlier.  I didn’t see what had started their problems, but I felt like he realized he was getting to a breaking point and asked for help and didn’t get it.  Anyway, I’m sorry if I didn’t handle it correctly.”  Then, to my surprise, she acknowledge that she should have separated them when he asked for help, that she should have realized that it was almost to the point that it was.  She went on to explain how the kids have to learn to get along and settle their problems and most of the time it doesn’t end in actual fights.  I asked her how long she had been teaching and she replied, “Twenty-seven years.”  Wow, twenty-seven years!  I imagine maybe she has learned the best way to handle problems like these during all that time.  And then I wondered if maybe she’s just grown calloused to these problems and she’s tired of intervening when necessary.

Nevermind which of those is closer to the truth, it probably depends on the day and the situation, but I told her that my respect and admiration for kindergarten teachers had multiplied exponentially that day.  She smiled and said she appreciated that.   I told that to another kindergarten teacher that day and her reply was, “Some days it’s like trying to herd worms!”  I’ve never heard that one before.

Anyway, that’s all my complaining for today.


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