I was late to class today. I was so late that the Vice Principal unlocked my classroom door then called up to the English office and asked if I was coming. Yikes!
I rushed downstairs, embarrassed and flustered, and my class greeted me with giddy laughter.
“Miss!” they hooted, “you are LATE!”
“You gonna have to stay after!”
“We gonna write your parents!”
“We’re gonna write an email to you and bcc your parents!”
That last one made me burst out laughing. We just learned about cc and bcc on Friday. My students’ eyes had widened when they realized what bcc meant, how it worked. One boy declared, “Well, that’s just evil,” and I had laughed out loud, but I struggled to find even one example of bcc that my students thought was acceptable use (aka “not evil”).
“I have a perfectly good excuse,” I batted my eyes and looked chastened. “You don’t need to tell my parents,” I paused, “or the principal.”
“I’m gonna email your parents and BCC the principal!” called one perpetually late student. Everyone fell into gales of laughter.
Once we settled into our lesson, my students busily writing about today’s picture prompt, I had a moment to reflect. How do I treat late students? I try to be aware, to remember that sometimes life gets busy for these kids, that English class isn’t always their top priority. Today I got confused. It happens. Lots of things happen.
I know that I am respectful of the almost-never-late student. That’s easy. And I can handle the occasionally late student, but how do I treat my perpetually late students? They mostly come in BIG, swaggering and waving their way into the classroom, disrupting class and (though I hate to admit it) making me angry. I have tried to teach them how to come in small, we’ve even practiced, but change is a struggle. They arrive loud and swaggering anyway, prepared for whatever I throw at them: reminders that they will have to stay after class, public scolding, comments about emailing their parents again. I try to be mindful, I do. In general we do more laughing than shouting in our classroom, but still…
Today I’m wondering what it feels like to be a student rushing to English class, late again, knowing that I will be waiting. Maybe tomorrow I will ask them. Maybe I will remember that my students always have reasons for their behaviour, even when I don’t understand or condone the reasons. Maybe tomorrow I will be just a little more patient.
I think it’s a good thing I was late today. Even if the VP did have to call. And for the record, I do have a good excuse.