October 9, 2007

High school and trust games

Today was my first day of observation! I'm observing in a tiny high school in central Illinois. The classes are way small - I think the biggest class I am observing for was a class of 12 students. The small class size is kind of cool, though - we had time for every student to stand up in every class and tell us a little bit about themselves. It seems like it's going to be a fun semester. I'm really excited that I'm finally placed in a high school - the last two placements I've been in have been middle school. I was starting to worry that I would finally get my observing placement and realize that I didn't want to do high school after all, entirely too late. Luckily, though, I don't think that's going to be the case.

I am starting to worry about one thing, entirely unrelated to my observation placement... I am not afraid to speak up if I think I need to talk to someone; I am not afraid to be "mean" if I have to be...but I like to trust people; I like to trust that they will do the right thing; I like to respect people and assume respect back. In other words, I worry that my trust in people will get me into trouble. I've already had moments of trusting people too much in the past. On the other hand, I do think that, 90% of the time, if you trust people and respect them, they will respect you back - and I want my students, in the future, to feel trusted and respected. I want them to follow my classroom rules because they respect me, not because I check to make sure they're following them every five minutes or make them really strict. But I also know, that if I take that too far, then I will not end up respected; I will end up being the teacher who everyone thinks they can slip one by on. So how do I find that line? How can I show my students respect, and trust, without trusting them so much that they think they can get away with stuff? I don't want to become the jaded teacher. I don't want to be the teacher that thinks every student is trying to get away with something, that every glance is cheating, that every homework excuse is a lie. But I also don't want to be the teacher, or person, who gets walked on.

I'd like to think that, if I just treat people with respect, they will respect me, and my classroom, back. When I respect people, I tend to work very hard for them. But I know not everyone' s like me, and I know that's not always the case...or, even if it is, people don't always think through what they're doing as disrespectful or a breach of trust, so even if I earn people's respect they may still try things. So where's the line between trusting people, and trusting them too much?

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