Thursday, April 24, 2008

Silent "Treat"ment

As I prepared for a substitute teacher this week, John came over near my desk. I was updating a profile on each student. When John leaned forward to read what I was writing, I decided to let him see it. The text (about him) read, "John is a marshmallow, and he has the initiative to match." John, indignant, said, "Hey! Don't call me a marshmallow!" (Oops, I thought, I may have hurt his feelings.) "Call me a cupcake!" he finished, with a knowing smile.

John is a also a chatterbox. He is a big, tall 8th grader who cannot stop talking when he is supposed to be reading. His gabbing can be quite disruptive. When he is absent, we miss him, because he is also sweet. However, it is noticeably (and pleasantly) quiet around here when he's gone. Today, after I threatened to write a referral for his refusing to stop talking, he switched to Pout Mode, and decided to punish me by giving me the silent treatment. (That's right; selective mutism. )

Now, this should tell you something about the level of emotional intelligence of students in my classroom. What in God's name would give a child the idea that a teacher would hate it if he sat with his mouth shut for 30 minutes?!

Needless to say, I did not take advantage of this "teachable moment," and chose instead to let him steep in his ignorance. The silence was wonderful.

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