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Friday, March 24, 2017

Tears in the Classroom: A Sixth Grade Story

I adored my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Quist. He was a young teacher with lots of energy. We had a lot of fun in his class and he took an interest in us beyond the usual classroom learning and efforts. I so vividly remember one day when friends and I were creating a bulletin board. One friend, Sue, was an amazing artist. She had drawn a beautiful design on the board and we were all coloring the design. We were silly and fooling around a lot, and Mr. Quist was trying to teach. He gave us several reminders to do the right thing, but we continued fooling. Then he raised his voice. I was so ashamed that we had upset him. I was also embarrassed and angry that he yelled at us. I ran out of the room in tears. I don't know if I ever told my parents, but I knew I was doing the wrong thing, and I understood that I was mostly upset because I had upset my teacher.

Tears happen in classrooms now and then. I've cried here and there, and children have cried from time to time. Of course, we like to steer away from that behavior as much as possible, but in truth, the classroom is an intimate place of learning, share, and connection, and sometimes, similar to family life, there can be events that bring us to tears.

Now that I've been teaching for a while, I'm sure Mr. Quist rethought the episode and there were no more tears that I remember that year. The problem was probably trying to teach the rest of the class while trusting that a small group of enthusiastic sixth graders could create a bulletin board in the front of the class without creating a ruckus. He learned the lesson that it's difficult for any group of sixth graders to create together silently as it's a social age that generally displays a lot of spunk.