The Curveball

Remember the student who, on my 1st five days of "back-to-teaching" story, called 911?


She continues to be a "headache" if a teacher wants complete control of the classroom, if the teacher wants "no distractions," and/or wants her to change.

And, I guess I am that teacher.

"To begin with the end in mind" is my North Star. And what's my "end" in mind? It was simply to make teaching and learning fun, simple, and easy!

To do that, yes, I had to envision what I wanted my classroom to be like, feel like, smell like, hear like! I had to step back and continue to adjust and modify my strategies because I want teaching and learning to be fun, simple, and easy - especially for me!

But this little kid is making it no fun because of constant redirection and constant need to give her my attention! When I focus on her, my time with other students is affected too! And no teaching and learning that was supposed to be fun, simple, and easy ever happens!



The following week, I continued my check-in and check-out with her. Whenever she misbehaved, I would write it down and make her sign the paper - for accountability.

And then, I chanted, "Someone's leaving school... someone's leaving school". The chanting continued for a few days until I received an email from the principal.


So, what was the strategy?!!!


At lunchtime, I came to see her. She said the mother of the (911 student) came to ask why I was threatening her daughter with my chanting, "Someone's leaving school, someone's leaving school.. ."

(For sure, the student felt like I was doing everything I could to get her expelled from school - so she told her mom - who came in to talk to the principal!).

I grinned. "Oh, that?! Yes! I'm leaving school! It's stressful to deal with behavior kids. I'd rather resign and do something more meaningful."

She was stunned. 

Yes, it was a curveball.


After I met with the principal, this little kid (with a smirk) asked, "Did the principal talk to you already?"

I looked at her, smiled, and asked, "Why?" 

She said, because you always say, "someone's leaving school, someone's leaving school...".

I grinned and told her, "Yup, I'm resigning!" 

She was shocked! "You?! You're leaving school?! But why?!" 

Without hesitation, I replied, "Because of your bad behavior!". 

She put her head down and said, "I'm sorry!"

The other kids in the class (3rd-4th graders) were all panicky, saying I shouldn't leave and that they wanted me there! 

The next day, here comes the little 911 kid, "Ms. Gemma, I promise I will be really good in your class because I don't want you to leave!" The next day, she asked, "Ms. Gemma, can I be a teacher in your class too?" 

Our days have been refreshing since.

In recollection, I think "the end in mind" did it! I wanted teaching and learning in my class to be FUN, SIMPLE, and EASY, and God made it happen for us!

Sometimes, teaching in the US would feel like the world is on your shoulders, especially for first-time teachers, but with a proper mindset, all will be well!

Believe it! (and strategize, strategize, strategize!) :)

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