I’ll Never Forget the Question

A Grade 3 boy was sent to me as he was experiencing difficulty in the classroom. As I often did, I instructed the boy to sit for while I completed the task I was working on. In actuality, it usually was to give some time to calm down and to reflect on the incident that initiated to removal from the classroom and into the office. As any child knows, being sent to the principal’s office for misbehaviour is no laughing matter. The consequences are often unclear and could be slightly unnerving.

principal office

Coming to my office was not a venture that most students liked. In fact, some students dreaded the idea. Conversely, many teachers liked how I handled situations, although many of them did not know my methodology. What they did know was that many students straightened up in my presence. Upon my entrance into a classroom, if it were noisy, the noise would suddenly subside to absolute calmness. Needless, to say, I marveled at whatever it was that caused that kind of reaction. Yet, I did not deal with children in any manner that would cause them to be afraid of me. As puzzling as if may seem, children like to be around me. Maybe because of my story-telling. After all who does not like to listen to a good story? That’s something for you to think about and do. Tell stories to your children; to your boys, and watch their reaction.

round table

Back to my Grade 3 friend. When I turned to the boy to ask his reason for being removed from his classroom, he said to me: “Mr. Evans, why does everybody like you?” That was a true statement. My effect on children has been well-known in every school that I worked as a teacher and later as an administrator. At a school in Mississauga, Ontario, a Grade 5 student revealed the confusion he felt when he told me that before he came to my class, he was somewhat fearful, but now, he finds that my classroom is a very nice place. I remembered saying to him: “I understand the confusion you have”. You see, when other students in other classes were observably disorganized, unruly, loud, and inattentive, my students would stand in straight lines, very quietly, while they awaited for my instruction to enter the classroom or to be dismissed. The way my students behaved seemed to puzzle everyone and there was the mistaken belief, that, they could only be that obedient because they were afraid. Afraid of what, I did not know. Some teachers, I have found, lack the simple techniques that would engender Student good behaviour and focused attention to tasks.

When I worked at Earnscliffe Senior Public School in Brampton, Ontario, a Grade 8 student remarked, “Mr Evans, when we are in your class we learn but when we are in Mr. …” I stopped her before she could go any further. I did not want her to call the name of another teacher, though I knew who she meant. She then went on to say, “we learn when we are in your class because you mean business when you are teaching”. And I certainly meant business — to me education is very serious business. But what it was, and anyone should be able to do it, it’s what I learned some years prior — If you grab the attention of the students the moment they enter the classroom, the probability for students to focus on their work is greatly enhanced. Also, I was known not to speak if even one students was not paying attention or speaking. Whenever, I gave instructions, however minor, everyone had to be listening. It was important for them to have undivided attention when I spoke. In that way, nobody missed anything and there was no need to ask about the instruction some time later. Of course, extenuation circumstances will be considered.

Back to the question, Mr. Evans, Why Does Everybody like you?” Let me answer by telling you that, many teachers had a difficult time dealing with this child, and they may have had good reason. I believed that he was difficult to manage, but that he could be managed, given the appropriate approach and treating him like a valuable individual. I showed this little boy that he had greatness within him and that he could become anybody that his potential would allow. I showed this little boy love, appreciation, and patience. I took the time to listen to him, allow him to express himself and not shutting him down in mid-sentence. He noticed, like so many parents who have said a similar thing, “You listen to us”.

So, there you have it. Give boys time to express how they feel and show them some love and watch them change, and thrive. And watch your stress become less and less. You can do it! Sure, you can!

Much more next time.
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