Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Infinite Pools of Patience

Why is it that some days I have infinite pools of patience?

Some days, no matter what happens, I am the picture of serenity. Chairs can be kicked over in rage, tantrums can be had in the hallway, giggles can burst out incessantly on the rug -- and I am tranquil, responding in even, measured tones.

"It's okay to be disappointed, but you can't use your body like that. You need to let us know with words."

"When you talk to me that way, it doesn't make me want to do what you want."

"I'm going to ask that question again, and I expect to see people raising their hands quietly."

All delivered in a matter-of-fact, even friendly tone that says "I still like you, and I know you can get this right. I'm happy to work with you on this if you try it again." Handled the way a good teacher would handle it.

If I knew the secret to those unflappable days, perhaps I wouldn't have the kind of days when the smallest quip, or student out of place, or unrequested voice makes me sigh, snap back, throw my hands in the air, or want to stamp my feet as if I too were in second grade.

I suppose the latter kind of days are the days that make me human. But I would rather be super-human, I think: unmovable, always wise and calm and friendly, never rushed or impatient or stressed. As I age, I'm getting better at this, despite the fact that I am not hard-wired for calm. So maybe by the time I've been teaching 25 years?

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