Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gradually Abandoning my Shyness Through Teaching

There is a significant way in which studying to become a teacher is affecting my character. And, I've been trying really hard to let it affect my character in certain ways. Why? Because it is my belief that in every profession, if it is done well, there are characteristics that are good both in and outside of the job. Also, as much as I can manage it, I don't want to be one kind of person on the job and another kind of person off the job. So, I'm trying to take whatever characteristic(s) contribute to the ideal teacher and adapt it(them) more generally.

For example, one characteristic that I think contributes to the ideal teacher is to be assertive. In particular, if a student is behaving inappropriately (e.g. blurting out in class rather than raising their hand and waiting to be called on), then in one way or another, that behavior needs to be neutralized. Otherwise, they may assume that it is acceptable to do so or even worse, someone else will mimic that individual because they also take that behavior to be acceptable. In which case, you will have students trampling on what would have otherwise been an orderly way to organize a classroom discussion.

Now, this is an example of how I have been applying my assertiveness to a degree off the job. I was next in line in a Walgreens. I think I was just buying some bread. This kid was at the front counter. I would guess that he was in 8th grade. Between me and him there was roughly a 1.5 adult person gap. Customers were constantly walking back and forth through this gap. This kid had a skateboard on the floor and it was lying vertically through this gap. That was pissing me off because people were walking through and someone could trip over his board. I think one person almost did. So finally, he reached the limit of my nerves. I spoke loudly and directly at him, "Your board is in the way! Move it!" He slowly cocks his head around to me. He rolls his skateboard back so that the gap is mostly clear. To that I simply reply, "Thanks." With half a frown and somewhat lowered eyebrows, he mutters, "Welcome...."

I was pretty proud of myself for my reaction. I don't like it when anyone is taken advantage of or not considered (with respect to when someone acts in a way that can affect them). So, if I can influence someone's behavior such that they do neither of those things, you can imagine that it makes me feel pretty good about my efficacy.

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