At least, this is what one of my fifth graders told me this morning. I paused at the blackboard in response to this and did my best to address the issue at hand. I fished a few more questions out of him, attempting to gain a better understanding of where his words were coming from. My quick conclusion, while in the middle of a lesson, was that he was trying to annoy me by telling me that I’m not a teacher, but more importantly, he’s been hit by teachers his whole life and; therefore, knows nothing else. It’s a sad realization to come from, but it’s true. The fact of the matter is, the boy wasn’t even upset with me in any way, he just thought he’d throw the comment out into the room as a joke.
The main issue with corporal punishment that I’m having isn’t that it exists because it’s wrong. The problem I’m having is that the students know I’m not going to hit them. “Sir doesn’t lash,” they will say. So, the issue is trying to figure out a way to discipline kids who know I won’t reprimand them in the ways that they’re used to. I’m having no trouble controlling my own class, it’s the kids who run through the classroom from other grades that I have no control or authority over. It’s a tricky situation, for sure.
How do you gain the respect or understanding of a person who thinks you need to be hitting them in order to get it? There’s something major to be learned from this, something that ties in to relationships all over the world, I’m sure. This brings me back to my motto for the year: Teach Love.