Tuesday, January 4, 2011

in which I explode

I have a delightfully short temper. Anyone who's watched me compete at anything or play video games knows this. To ride in a car with me is to fully understand what is meant by road rage. My temper has led to embarrassing situations...like destroying a hockey stick in 7th grade when my team lost a totally inconsequential floor hockey game in PE...or the time I destroyed my hand during a whiffle ball game at summer camp (I was a counselor). I tell you this to let you know the work I had to put into getting my temper under control when I became a teacher. I don't lose it as a teacher, and I've worked very hard to maintain that zen-like state that you have to be in to teach middle school.

Pictured: My mind during class.

But then I started working here. Saudi students have a very different idea of what it means when a teacher is stern with them. In the states I was able to be stern with a look or verbal warning. However, I rarely raised my voice and I NEVER got angry loud. You know angry loud...when the veins in your neck feel like they're literally about to pop and your voice cracks because you're trying to squeeze every decibel that your body can muster through your larynx...yeah, that angry loud. Well...angry loud is what these students expect when you're being firm with them. I had seen it from other teachers, saw that it worked, and immediately decided that I would never do that. Then today, I lost it.

Note to self: never google image search "explosion" in the Middle East...

I think it's enough to say that it was uncomfortable. My voice is still scratchy. More than anything that this says about my temper, I think that this explosion really highlights the difference in my students. These students are just...well, more stubborn. They'll never let you have the courtesy that American students give you of "you're the teacher and we'll at least acknowledge that you're in charge here". You are constantly earning their respect and they will test you every minute that you're working with them. Being in a boys' school means that everyone is out to be the alpha...even more so with Arabs (trust me, I married one). I have to be on my toes though...and that makes me be a good teacher every day. That's the whole point right? Ah...the adventures of teaching in the Kingdom.

As far as I'm concerned, I don't plan on exploding again...I didn't enjoy it much. I even apologized to the student (though he's still in the wrong). Teachers and (I'm guessing) parents among you will understand the feeling after a conflict where you wonder if you did the right thing and all that business. It sucks...but that time spent considering your actions and reviewing for next time is essential to being a good leader...or alpha in my case. Anyway, it's back to zen for me, thanks.

Vicariously yours,

1 comment:

  1. You can always find bacon in the commissary(aramco)