I was disappointed when Marcus the Irish cabbie told me that we were very unlikely to see snow this year in southern England. I had assumed what with the Newfoundland latitude and everything, but he said we were just too south and such a dry climate; you never really see as much as a dusting. Just frost.
But he was wrong. We’ve received about 2 inches today. One in the morning which melted and one again beginning now the sun has gone down. It’s looking like more is coming this evening as well and over the next three days. Now while I am a kid at heart and love a good snowfall as much as my eighth graders, I’ve realized again today just how wide the rift between student and teacher should be when it comes to snow.
I had a first period class while (whilst) the snow was still coming down strong and the children were glued to the windows, begging me to let them out to play. Some of them claimed they had never seen snow fall in Dorset. I thought this was all a good laugh until they did not settle down and continued to breath on the glass and leave cheek marks of desperation. I closed the curtains so they could not look out the window anymore. But still they persisted. Two girls peaked their heads underneath and kept staring outside, while another boy was almost up in arms for a mutiny. Another student dug her fingernails into the wall, declaring injustice. Realizing that I would have to treat them as animals and not students today, I decided to put my badass hat on.
Making a presence in the room is a difficult thing to do. Students have to fear you in a good way; they have to know that when you raise your voice, not only do you mean business but you will take action if they don’t settle down. This is where your words are actually less important but your actions come in – I don’t like to threaten kids with detentions or other punishments. I usually just give them and don’t give the student any option to argue.
But today, something tugged at me from the inside. It was a small voice that said “Who have you become?” It was a snowday, and if there is anything that gets a kid through the soul-sucking stretch of February without digging out their eyes with pencils, it is the magic of the snowday. And here I was, the ugly ogre under the bridge barking commands and forcing the students to work in groups on Romeo and Juliet against their will, illustrating the direct polar opposite of the sentiments I wished to teach. Who have I become? Perhaps pushing against the students’ wishes with your own iron will is what every teacher must do to be a true teacher, but sometimes I don’t agree with it. Kids must be kids.
I did not let them out, though. We suffered on through the great indoors. Later on in the day, I was walking up to my house when an ambush of twenty boys from Cranborne came wheeling around the corner of the house loaded to their scarfs with snowballs. I fled like a little girl, and once they had emptied their ammo, I resumed my teacherly mindset and did what I knew I had to do. I gave a wag of my finger, an angry scowl, and I yelled something about my expensive dress pants. But even I didn’t believe myself. In five minutes I had changed into my snowgear, packed ten snowballs, and punished those little twits in their own backyard. Until they ran at me and began to bundle.
Bundle (verb.) British for school-boy body attack, wrestling, shoving snow down trousers.
Sometimes I love my job, but as you can see, it is not easy to balance the line. There comes the time when you have to nail kids with snowballs, and I like to think that I can still be a teacher even then. Teaching them their place.