Wednesday, March 24, 2010

just keep crying

I'm going to make a terrible father.

I've discovered that I have this uncanny ability to make my students cry. Not all students, mind you. Just the more babyish. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to crying. I think it's a healthy release in moderation and a necessary part of experiencing grief or extreme joy. But this is starting to get ridiculous.

Last session I had one student who would cry at the drop of a hat if I did something he perceived as being "unfair" (such as punishing him when he did bad things). When I asked my Korean coworkers what to do in this situation, the general advice was "just rub him on the back and tell him it's okay," and other such conciliatory remarks. I tried it. He just cried more. Duh.

Finally, I got tired of it, and tired of having to teach my class over the loud sobs of an 11 year old. I tried making him go sit in the hall, but then his crying was just bothering everyone on the floor. I tried to give him the chance to go to the washroom and wash his face, but to no avail. Finally, I told him "John, you either stop crying in my classroom or you can go sit downstairs and talk to Ms. Tammy (my boss)." Sure enough, within a few sniffles, he had his pencil in hand and was back to work.

That was then, and this is now.

Now I have a 10 year old named Alice who, yet again, cries at the slightest correction that I offer. Not every time, mind you, but at least once a week or so. I suppose I should find a friendlier way to say "looks like you misspelled 'airport'." Talking to my coworkers, I found out that she's been like that since kindergarten. SINCE KINDERGARTEN. Holy crap. It's hard to imagine the cause. Perhaps ultra strict parents who expect nothing less than perfection. Maybe there's something else going on and this is merely the trigger for her to start crying. Whatever it is, it's driving me nuts.

I haven't gotten tough with her yet, but next time I'm bringing out the ol' "I'll give you something to cry about," routine. Well, maybe not, but I'm going to let her know that this isn't kindergarten and that she needs to do her work like everyone else (which, in that class, is one other it gets really awkward sometimes). Or, as my Korean coworker says, "Alice, stop being small." I'm really hoping that we can encourage her to view mistakes as possible learning experiences instead of focusing on the failure. But misspelled a freakin' word. Get over it.

At this point I just want to laugh at them when they start crying and hope that my mockery compels them to stop.

I told you, I'm going to make a terrible father.