Patience is not an easy endeavor. That’s the reason why it is considered a virtue. I attempted to be patient recently, and I guess I passed the test.
One day, I was teaching grammar among my advisory class. The discussion has been smooth, spontaneous, and fruitful until I called one student that I will refer as Alec (That’s not his real name). We were discussing pronouns that time, and I was trying to solicit examples from my students. Suddenly, I was surprised when Alec expressed, “I don’t know, Sir.” Besides the fact that the lesson was technically easy and my voice was loud enough to be heard even in the next room, I couldn’t see any reason why he would say it in a tone that I recognized that was not pleasing to a teacher’s pair of ears, especially to my ears. I repeated the question and gave some hint for him to answer my question, but what I got was another defiant answer.
As I called another student, I tried to multi-task. I mentally try to analyze what’s wrong with Alec. I was clueless until I remembered I swapped him just a while ago with another student who has a problem seeing far from the back. Upon my realization, I instructed Alec to ignore the swapping and return to his seat. Instead, I swapped the other student to another one. I stressed the swapping was all about the eyesight of that particular student.
If I’d recall my previous experiences, I would have stayed in that moment. Last year, I had the same encounter with a student who was using his cellphone during our class. I caught his attention, and he was sort of answering back. I held the class attention to that students’ wrongdoing for a longer time before I moved on. Because of that, the student came to me the following day and apologized, and we had a better relationship throughout the school year. Until now, that student still waves at me and greets me.
Going back with Alec, I didn’t hold on to that moment. I tried another strategy. If I’d stayed angry in that situation, our lesson will be put in jeopardy. I moved on right away and focused on the lesson. At first, I wasn’t comfortable because I felt disrespected, but along with patience, there comes unselfishness. I remember that I am not teaching to feel better. I am teaching because I want to change lives. Again, I moved on. The discussion ended and the incident did not take too much exposure.
During recess, I consulted my former students. Actually, I am teaching few of my students last year because I was transferred from Grade 9 to Grade 10. I asked them if they remembered the incident last year, and they told me that they were terrified because I was too angry. Another student mentioned that my attitude in the recent encounter was far too low level compared to my anger outburst last school year. At the back of my head, I was really trying my best to control my temper.
Moments later, I asked the class president what was wrong. She told me that Alec didn’t mind me swapping him with another student. What made him upset was the remark of the student I was supposed to swap with him. That student told Alec that the swap was made because Alec was too noisy. Of course not! My bad, I explained the reason only after the misbehavior occurred.
I could have prevented the misunderstanding, but the harm was made. I asked the president to call Alec and talk to me twice–during recess and after class, but he did not show up. The president told me that Alec was so ashamed of what he did. I planned to talk to him personally, so that he will understand what happened.
When I came home, I was still thinking about the incident with Alec. I had a photo about attitude on my phone. I uploaded it on an FB group to prevent that day’s incident to happen again. To my surprise later that night, Alec commented on the photo. He wrote a long comment, and the bottom line was his explanation and his apology. I sent him a personal message just to assure him that I forgave him, explain to him what occurred, and ask forgiveness too for putting him on the spot.
This is what I told him:
“It’s okay. Next time, don’t do it again. You are one of the students who brighten our class, and I appreciate your efforts especially in our class’ plan in an extracurricular activity. I was just surprised with your attitude a while ago, and it was not so you. I was expecting you to talk to me a while ago. Anyway, you’re forgiven, and I am sorry too to have put you on the spot.”
Things went back to normal after that, but it happened slowly.
The following day, we had our homeroom because classes were suspended due to heavy rains. We were supposed to have our English class, but we had homeroom instead while we were waiting the rain to be calmer. During homeroom, we played a game. At first, it was difficult to look the area where Alec sits, but later on I glanced at that area. Moments later, I tried to talk as if I was talking to Alec. During the game, I was able to call him and let him speak in our processing. That encounter assured me that my anger to what Alec did was dissolved.
In the past, I could have handled this kind of situation differently, and that way could make matters worse. My experiences through my few years of teaching taught me and made me patient and understanding to my students especially when a student like Alec comes in the scene. If I remained hard and angry, things would have turned out differently. I might be angrier next time, and that would hamper my relationship not only with Alec but with all the students in my class. It would also make Alec’s feelings worse. I’m glad that I chose the patient and forgiving way.
To be a teacher who makes a real difference is to be patient and forgiving no matter how hard it could be. These characters do not develop over night, but when the opportunity comes, we have to give it a shot. When we are patient and forgiving, nobody loses and everybody wins!