The kids sat, desks spread out throughout the classroom, concentrating on their work. Work they didn’t want to do. Didn’t have to do. If only they’d simply behaved. Work they were doing as a punishment for their uncooperative behavior.
The teacher also sat writing notes, ideas about upcoming lessons. Her back was aching from hunching over. Her eyes scanned the room, watching the kids. She wondered why a last ditch incentive didn’t curb their misconduct like it did with most of their peers. Peers who were in another room enjoying the reward of staying focused, putting in their best effort. Why does it seem to be a joke, a given right to misbehave with this group of kids?
She reflected on herself as a youth. A young girl who simply followed the rules, followed directions and was respectful to those around her, especially the adults. Especially her teacher. Not these kids. They defy everything, say they don’t need to listen, and Who cares! And she knows that is a big part of the problem. Who does care? Anyone? Is there an effort to teach them to be productive and valuable individuals? Or does it not matter? Just give these kids whatever they want and assume everything will turn out okay.
The teacher knows, though, that it won’t be okay unless someone besides herself, at this moment, during this year, and more importantly, throughout their life, sets boundaries and maintains some sort of structure in their lives. Everyone plays a role in the growth of each child. Everyone involved.
The kids are tired, she notices, just like she is. Some of them look up, look at her, but then quickly bow their heads, returning to their work, defeated. She wishes she can change everything, make them understand the importance of responsibility; but, they just roll their eyes at her, not accepting her explanation.
For the moment, they are quiet here in the quiet room. Working because she told them to, because they have no choice, because she has expectations. But, when the bell rings, alerting them that their day is done, the kids spring from their seats, and once outside, return to their shenanigans.
Tomorrow is another day she tells herself. A chance to try again.