Today was an example of how it can be extremely difficult to try and teach adolescents, period, but particularly to teach them about modesty and making good choices. I try very hard not to be careful of what I say, so that I am supporting them and sending a message consistent with the Church’s teachings…but sometimes…sometimes, even teachers speak before they talk. Or, perhaps better said, they speak and forget CRUCIAL adverbial prepositional phrases.
As I have previously mentioned, I have a very energetic, and wordly class this year. It makes for quite the deadly combination some days. Today was one of those days.
There are some pieces of background information necessary to fully appreciate the story. First is that Tiger has a hole in her turtleneck (required uniform shirt) in her right armpit. She plays with it all day, sticking her fingers in and conceivably stretching it out. Second, my students have snack every morning, but must store their snack in their desk throughout the morning. They are not permitted to get up and go to the cupboards to get it from their lunches; that is just too distracting.
It recently came to my attention, as well as the rest of the class’ attention, that Wilma has an odd idiosyncrasy when it comes to snack. Unlike many of the girls, she has no problem remembering to put her snack in her desk each morning. She does not try to eat her snack throughout the morning, but rather waits until Snack Time (very sacred in my room). No, the oddness comes out AFTER she has eaten her snack. See, she has this habit of going to the cupboards, taking her lunch bag out, looking at the food she has for lunch, then putting it all back (without taking anything), and returning to her seat. We’re not really sure what this is all about, but we are trying to support her in breaking this habit. Yesterday was day 1 of our attempt (and by our, I mean mostly mine), and it was successful. Today, though, we were checking vocabulary homework and I was distracted and only picked up that she was at the cupboard when the class started telling me “Miss Cardigan! Wilma’s at the cupboard with her lunch again!” That is when Tiger so lovingly calls out “Wilma, you’re so weird!”
I chastised Tiger and reminded the class that we are here to support Wilma: “Girls, we are here to help Wilma get through this and realize she does not need to check her lunch. That no one here is going to eat her lunch during snack. We all have odd character traits. It is not Wilma’s fault that her’s is a little more visible to the class.”
But no. That’s not all I said. Nope, it gets better…wait for it…wait for it.
“For example, Tiger, you like to put your fingers in your hole.”
IN YOUR SHIRT ARMPIT. IN YOUR SHIRT ARMPIT. But did I add that adverbial prepositional phrase? NO. Of course not. And why not? Because I do not think like my 13-14 year olds. I didn’t realize what I said (or rather, how it might be interpreted) until I started to hear the mumblings. Luckily, I was able to ignore and quickly return to checking vocabulary. I can only imagine the dinner conversations around their tables tonight…