Apparently, I have a reputation at school. Unbeknownst to me, the 2nd and 3rd graders in the classroom across the hall have some opinions about me that I discovered yesterday. In the classroom, I am definitely more on the firm side and less on the warm-and-fuzzy side, but my students know how much I love learning and love them; they understand the importance of expectations and ownership and responsibility and also how much I care for each one of them, even on the difficult days.
Yesterday, we were outside at recess (with what seemed like the rest of the school trying to get a few minutes of fresh air before our school-wide talent show), and I had just stepped onto the blacktop with my yellow duty vest on. I struck up a conversation with a student in another blended 2nd/3rd grade class about how many students were out at recess, and midway through the conversation, he cocked his head and looked at me for a moment.
“Miss Hansen, you know what?” he asked.
“What, buddy?” I replied, scanning the playground to make sure students were safe amidst the chaos.
“Even though some kids say you’re kind of mean, I think you’re pretty nice when people actually talk to you.”
I stopped scanning the playground and looked at this student for a moment. “Wait, say that again,” I said, curious about what sparked this comment.
“Well, you know how sometimes in the hallway we’re loud and you tell us to be quiet? I don’t think that makes you mean, though.”
I knew exactly what he was talking about; I give frequent reminders to his class about hallway expectations. I had to stop myself from chuckling. “Thanks, buddy. I hope not!”
One of my students was dribbling his basketball nearby and overheard the conversation. “Wait, did you just say Miss Hansen is mean? No way, dude!” He came over to join us. “Miss Hansen, you’re not mean at all! You even gave us extra recess today,” he exclaimed.
I smiled at both boys. “Thanks, I’m glad you think that.” As they ran off to play, the honesty of the exchange made me laugh. And it also caused me to pause and reflect. How am I caring for our students both inside and outside of the classroom? How can I do better? In a school where an increasing number of students come to school and find safety and love within our walls that they might not find at home, I need to make sure that my demeanor (whether in the hallway or classroom or in the community) reflects my care and commitment to each and every student.
That student’s innocent comment made me smile but also led to a moment of reflection. How does a reputation develop? How easy is it to change? What implications does this have for my teaching? How can I grow?
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post each day in March. Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for creating a place for writers to share their work all month long and hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!