Nothing is ever perfect even when it is fairly awesome. Such was the case with my student feedback this year in regards to my student teaching at Atascadero High School. While I got great marks from my master teacher and my university advisor, not to mention from pretty much every one of my students, two of my students chose to interpret reality in a distinctly different way and act accordingly based upon that interpretation.
Let me explain.
Some months ago a particular student of mine who has been rather wayward at times and challenged my authority albeit mostly by way of going right up to the line but not entirely crossing over it, was rough-housing and being disruptive one day. I was alone as my master teacher was elsewhere which further emboldened this student. Given I do have a good rapport with this student and with the students with which he was being unruly and this behavior had been an ongoing thing albeit to a much lesser extent than the day in question, I elected to playfully needle this football athlete. I pointed out to the close how cute he and this other student are together as they flirt with each other adding the caveat "not that there's anything wrong with it" which could be taken literally or sarcastically. This ploy ultimately had the desired effect with much laughter and the student in question was clearly not offended or harmed by this but he did settle down.
A month and a half or two months later on the day of the final for the class in question (Period 1) I passed my yearbook around for students to sign if they liked while other students finished their final. There was much confusion near the end of class as I signed student's yearbooks and they finish signing mine. When I finally got alone I realized there was an envelope on my computer addressed "Mr. Noyes". Inside was the letter above. The author signed it as did a second student. Both students are A-level students. Both students did not sign my yearbook despite my having a good rapport with them in class.
|Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).|
These girls should have come and talked to me the very day this event happened or at least shortly thereafter. Leaving me a snotty and judgemental letter as a parting shot the last day of school, months later, is not a good way to win hearts and minds. Worse yet, they did this instead of, not in addition to signing my yearbook. They also made many factual and interpretive errors in their critique of my comments that day in class. However, these are kids, not adults and they are incredibly vulnerable to being brainwashed by those with agendas seeking to control their malleable young minds. I was the subject of a minor social attack in the Culture War by proxy of the adults who originally instilled in these girls the vocabulary and cultural worldview found in the note.
To me, all students are special and to be protected, not merely tiny special interest groups within the broader student body. I'm everybody's ally, not just gay students' ally. I also will joke with my students about most human behaviors most of which are subject to being referred to in my humor. I later had the opportunity to talk briefly with one of the girls and thanked her for taking the time to put the letter together and for having the courage to stand up to a teacher. However, I gently informed her it would have been more useful had they simply talked to me a the time of the event as I would have welcomed a dialogue on the subject. I also informed her that the door is still open to such if they see me on campus in the coming school year.
To view a nice surprise I was given by another student go HERE.
To view 20 awesome comments in my yearbook from my students go HERE.