I've always been very fascinated by literary studies that observe how one group of people treats another group as "the mysterious other," often approaching them through one of the following means: emphasizing cultural exoticism, enslaving them, eradicating them, or any of the above + or - villainizing them. Today, in the world of educational "mysterious otherness" and summer school, I feel like the villain.
Anytime I complain about the frustrations of unmotivated students, arguing with students, reprimanding students, flat out punishing students, and/or any other similar classroom agenda-struggles, the thing I am MOST frustrated with all boils back to being cast as a villain. Or at least feeling like one.
"Otherness" between teachers and students bothers me. One major reason for this is because I am still quite young. If my mom were still around, I think she would still try and give me a curfew when I go home. It was not that long ago that I was a teenager. Really not THAT long ago, not long ago as in half of the clothes in my closet have been there since high school, (some from Jr. High), and they are still "in style." Yes, I measure things by the metric units of fashion longevity. Shut up.
For this, and other assorted reasons, I do not feel a huge sense of separation between myself and students. We are all people, we all want to have a good day, we all have "rough lives" (as one student put it today) for one reason or other to deal with, (and no, I do not believe you should be granted classwork autonomy because you a.work a lot, b. have a kid, or c. anything else. No one made it anywhere by asking for a free pass. Sorry.).
Thus, it makes sense to me that a classroom should function with everyone seeking a level of harmonious existence and involvement. Hold on don't call me an idealist schmuck. I'm not stupid, (at least not for that reason). I'm aware this is not the case. I can handle that. Students want to chat, somedays they don't feel like working, yeah yeah beentheredonethat. I got told to sit in the corner a lot in elementary school; all of my neighbors were my BFFs.
So when I have to go to a student and address them privately about the problems with their disruptive and otherwise not-doing-the-work behavior, I see it as a (semi) friendly reminder of why they are there, (the answer being painfully obvious when the case is summer school), and it can be left at that if the behavior is corrected. But when this doesn't work and I have to raise my voice, write referrals, take away privileges, etc., and I am met with resistance, attitude, or any other form of visible disgust, I begin to feel like the villainized "other." I am no longer, (if I ever was), "human," I am an evil war mongering demon teacher with green skin and fangs that nobody wants to see or be near, which, even though it may be effective towards getting an assignment finished, is still not a good feeling. I signed up for this?
It's the times when I'm mustering all of my internal stern-ness to tell a student to be quiet, and they are looking at me as though I'm hatching alien spawn out of my cranium, that I remember what I would rather be doing. If I was either filthy rich or ridiculously brave, (either/or), I would move to Morocco, wake up at noon, eat soft, cracked-wheat tabbouleh spiced with saffron in an enamel tagine, and write about it. Then if I got bored, I'd get my Ph.D, work at a university, teach a little, (no forced assignments there!), then go on sabbatical to the Greek islands. And if I were a carnivore, I'd eat donor kebabs just like I did from the vendor on Lover's Lane in Izmir. Then I'd write about that, too. No one getting mad at me, except maybe my friends or my dad - hey it happens - and I would no longer be Ms. Villain, I'd simply be me.
I'd love advice on how to deal with the villain-role-complex. Just get over it? Don't think about it past the last toll of the bell? Stand my ground and keep popping out alien spawn? Well, I do stand my ground, I just feel awful. What a day.