Saturday, April 10, 2004

On Being Bad, and Lessons Learned

Yesterday I resolved to do something adventurous over spring break. Well, day one is over and my biggest adventure was the flat tire I got in the parking lot at Marc's. It wasn't a AAA-type of flat tire; rather it was the neglected slow leak, that became all too evident when I returned to my car after an hour's worth of looking at stuff I don't need. The deflated tire was easily remedied by that marvelous invention, "Fix-a-Flat". I am it's biggest fan.

I park next to the dumpster at work. Since I work at trade school, the dumpster is usually overflowing with sharp objects: nails, scrap metal, broken glass, etc. I have had six flat tires in the past two years. The people at Firestone know me by name. It's kind of embarrassing.

I also resolved yesterday to indulge my inner wild-child, and be a little bit bad. Well, the bad girl that I am busted into a bag of jelly beans two days before Easter.
How scandalous!
How pitiful.
I really must try harder.

Last week my students were teasing me about my Marc's shopping habits.
A group of them was helping me organize my storage closet, when they noticed that many of the items in there had Marc's price tags on them. The boy's started calling me Ms Marc instead of the usual Ms Matt.
Let me explain. This past year Marc's had a whole lot of art supplies and paper on sale in their Close-Out's section. The prices were so cheap that I went a little crazy and bought a bunch of stuff for my classes. I don't mind buying supplies for my classes if I can get really good deals on them. What I hate is when I go out of my way to get things for the kids to use and they waste them.
Once I caught a couple of boys playing pencil-break with a brand new set of colored pencils that I just purchased. I went ballistic. Not only were they breaking the pencils, but then they took the busted up pieces and started throwing them across the room.
I am not proud of my response. I saw a new pack of magic markers poking out of one boy's bookbag, so I snatched the box and began throwing his markers one by one across the room. The whole class just stopped, dumbstruck. "How does it feel? " I snapped. We glared at each other for a moment. Then the young man stood up, quietly walked over to the other side of the room, and gathered his markers. I made my point.

When the bell rang I called the two boys aside and told them that we needed to talk. After the rest of the class left the room I apologized for losing my temper. That must have been the last thing they expected from me. They looked kind of shocked. I don't think that either one had ever heard an adult apologize before. I gave the boys back respect, and they responded with an unsolicited "We're sorry for breaking those pencils, we'll pay for them."

Sometimes the most important lessons are the one's that will not be found in a course of study.

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