81. A TEACHER-STUDENT “REUNION”, TEACHER AFTERMATH I & R.C. pt. XXI

MEMO TO “REV. WADE”: Your message started out fine as to your position on the issue of school c.p. But you ran off the tracks when talking about “cute teenage girl” and “sexy butt”. (And your other emails makes us wonder: Are you REALLY a minister?) Understand, there ARE reasons why Iowa schools do so well in academic excellence but the absence of school c.p. is NOT one of them. As a graduate student myself, I (Renee) am quite familiar with the reason why different states have different school achievement levels. It is socio-economic demographics. Comparing Alabama to Iowa is like comparing Alaska to Florida -It doesn’t make sense. As to the state of Iowa, there is definitely a need up there for your ministry. See next memo.

MEMO -WE ARE NOT MAKING THIS UP!: I (Renee) just heard this on a cable news program. An Iowa state judge ruled that underage teenagers can work as STRIPPERS because that is an “art form”. 🙄 Hey, maybe that explains why those Iowa test scores are so high. Still, I would NOT recommend the state of Alabama (or any other state) follow Iowa’s lead in this regard.

TEACHER AFTERMATH I

TWP has been planning this series for some time. After our well received CLOSE ENCOUNTERS series, we thought now was the best time to share with you, our readers, what our feelings are like after we have given a merited paddling to one of our “kids”. In ENCOUNTERS, we showed a lighter and innocent side to ourselves but this series will show a different tone: One about our own sorrows, regrets, doubts and even tears. It  certainly will contrast with the distorted picture the antis like to paint us as: So called “happy paddlers”, “abusers” and “terrorist”.

As Editor, I (Renee) will share my experience first. This is the aftermath of my first paddling recounted in the post RENEE’S HALLOWEEN (AND FIRST) PADDLING.

After consoling and reassuring Greg, I looked up at the clock and realized recess would be over soon. So I had Greg stay and be seated back at his desk. Greg’s demeanor was like a puppy and the way he looked up at me! He smiled at me like as to say, “I’m o.k….Are you o.k.?” I smiled and nodded back but had a MAJOR lump in my throat. The paddling had definitely been a “lite” one judging by the perplexed look on Jean’s face, my teaching mentor and paddling witness. The few tears of Greg’s had to be of shame and certainly not based on any real pain other than the initial sting.

Greg seemed just fine but I thought, “If I say a word…I think I’ll cry…”

Quietly grabbing a tissue from my desk behind my back, I decided to step out in the hall to recompose myself before the other 3rd graders came in from recess. And I remember like yesterday what happened when the tissues touch my eyes.

I had a good cry.

Everything I thought I had learned and understood from college had evaporated. I actually thought I could be the “sweet as sugar” young teacher leading my “kids” from ignorance to knowledge. That fantasy was now shattered -And I felt horrible.

As Robin, the other 3rd grade teacher, led our classes back inside, she saw me and sensed what had happened. After telling her about the second attempt by Greg to steal another child’s candy, Robin hugged me saying,  “Listen to me, Renee…You did what any of us would have done…So leave it behind you because you have a class to teach.”

I went back in the room which was very quiet. Up until then, the hardest part of my day was right after recess. I think Greg got the word out about his paddling with the way he looked at me with that sheepish grin. I felt awful and would have done anything to do a “do over” on that day. I couldn’t and instead made the best teaching effort I was able to muster.

If Greg though I would ignore him, he was mistaken. I used several opportunities to call on him to answer a question or to read something out loud for the class in an attempt to reintegrate Greg back into the normal class routine. And when afternoon recess started, I spoke again to Greg about the paddling and why it happened. He seemed to think I was still “mad” at him but I reassured him that I was never mad at but only disappointed in his behavior. Greg seemed relieved to hear that and promised never to steal again adding, “I still like you!” I replied, “That’s o.k. but you still have to sit out this recess.” I let Greg sit at the bottom of the 5 outdoor steps while Robin and I sat down at the top and monitored our classes’ recess.

At dismissal time, Greg was the last to leave and looked up to me saying, “I’m sorry about this morning and…” I whispered, “Greg, I’m sorry about having to paddle you too…So, lets have a better day tomorrow, alright?” Greg’s face seemed to light up with a wide grin as he said bye and headed out to catch his bus ride home.

I still had papers to grade and lesson plans to work on but it was difficult. I was unable to focus but managed to finish what I needed to. Jean and Robin stopped by to see how I was doing but we didn’t talk much. When I left at my normal time, I did so quietly w/o much chit chat.

Pulling into the shopping center parking lot where the aerobics studio (Which a rookie named Michelle would “discover” a few years later) I work out  was, I started to get out. But I couldn’t. That is when it hit me: I was one of those “paddlers” that I thought I’d never become. My idealism died that day and I just bowed my head against the steering wheel and cried. After what seemed like 30 minutes, I decided that the workout would have to be skipped. So I headed directly to my apartment.

Once in my apartment, I stripped and took a long hot bubble bath which I usually do AFTER the aerobics class. While soaking and moping, I called my mom on my cell and talked to the one person who I knew I could trust on any subject. I did NOT discuss the paddling I gave but rather talked in general terms about my being a teacher and the hard job of “taking charge” of a classroom.

Important: Moms are psychic and my mom seemed to read my mind because what she said helped pull me out of my doldrums.

Momma said, “Listen sweetie, I have a feeling you had to do something today that you hated to do and maybe…Just maybe, Renee darling, you will understand a little more how difficult it is being a parent -Much less a teacher.” That little mother-daughter chat did a lot to restore my confidence and I will always remembered it.

However, that was still a difficult evening as I kept a bowl of candy ready for any trick or treaters. (There were only a few) It was a strange evening for me: A childhood favorite of mine would be remembered by me from that night on not as a night of getting free candy and dressing up in a costume but rather as the day I did something I never set out to do as a teacher -Paddling a student of mine. And I was “blue” for several days.

The lasting effect on me was that I became more assertive as a teacher because I knew and understood that I would be expected to use the paddle as all the other teachers did -And I wished to avoid doing so if I could. But a repeat paddling never happened that school year. To this day, I don’t know WHAT Greg told the class but as a whole, my 3rd grade class seemed to behave BETTER for the rest of the school year. The couple times I gave “paddle warnings” did wonders and a difficult start in teaching for me became a great first year.

And a “borderline teacher” (me) became the county’s Rookie Teacher of the Year.

 

A TEACHER-STUDENT “REUNION”

(Editor’s Note: This long segment is from another guest contributor and should not be confused with Alexis’ saga. When and if we hear from Alexis, we WILL update you.)

Hello TWP. My name is Cindy and your story on Alexis and Scotty spurred me to write to you. I am a veteran teacher of just over ten years and I teach elementary school in South Carolina. Just as all of you, I attended a public university in my hometown and became a teacher because I felt a desire to teach young children in an educational setting. Also, as you have stated so many times, the idea of school c.p. was a non-issue for me and I never considered my using a paddle as a possibility.

My college years were fun but also hard work. Like Michelle, I was a college cheerleader and have a lot of fond memories of those years. And most of all, my teacher training was heavy on child psychology but lite on “real world” application. Add to that: I was and still am anti c.p. but with a practical side: When other options run out, you cannot just let misbehavior continue.

My first teaching assignment was not to my liking. I always wanted to teach younger children (age 5 to 9) but ended up with the highest grade level of the school where I was hired: 6th grade. And to say it was a difficult year was an understatement.

Like all young lady teachers, I got the usual attention -Especially from the boys. I would have preferred an all girls class but that was never an option. And the boys certainly pushed the envelope with me.

I guess I am a lot like TWP’s Michelle in that I have a sunny disposition and am always trying to be positive. But there were a few “hard cases” and one of them was Doug. A nice enough kid, Doug had a problem with honesty. Not just “white lies” either. Rather, Doug cheated. And not a little. It got so bad that I thought at one point everything he turned in was from cheating.

At first, I had him redo the work. Then I gave zeros on tests with lots of makeup work. Finally, when other kids complained, I warned Doug that he risked failing 6th grade altogether. While lamenting about Doug to some other teachers at a staff meeting, a male teacher picked up a heavy looking thick (3/4″) paddle off a shelf and told me, “This will do the trick for our pathological cheater.”

I shook my head but deep down, knew I was running out of options. One day as Doug and the class was coming in from recess, I motioned Doug to come with me into the teacher lounge. We both sat down on the couch as I held the paddle for Doug to see. I then warned Doug, “Listen to me Doug because next time you see this, I will be using it and that is something I do not wish to happen…” Continuing, I implored, “Doug, everyone in the class, as well as me, knows you cheat and I want it to STOP…NOW…Or we will be back in here.”

Doug seemed to understand and I felt a sense of relief that maybe, with half the school year left, Doug would be at least a honest student if not a honor student. But a week later, my worst fears were realized: I caught Doug with a “cheat sheet” index card during a morning math quiz. I sighed as I took up his test and tore it up. I would give him a second quiz after school but first, there were consequences to administer.

I was disappointed in Doug as we entered the lounge. But I knew the other options had run their course. When Doug pleaded that he’d never been paddled before, I told him, “I’m going to give you one lick because I have never done this before and only wish to get your attention as to ‘cheating’.”

I had Doug bend over with his hands gripping one arm of the lounge couch. Gripping the paddle handle with both hands, I took aim at the lower part of the back seat area of Doug’s jeans and swung hard like you do a tennis racket.

Pop!

Doug gasped as he lurched forward one step. As he stood up and turned around, I could tell that one swat had a devastating impact. Doug tried to “tough it out” but was trembling with a most painful expression and seeing that started to affect me.

“Are you o.k., Doug?”

Doug could only nod as a tear escaped on eye.

I patted him on the arm saying, “I’m not taking you back to the room until you tell me you are ready to, o.k.?…Please Doug, I hope you understand that I NEVER wanted to do this and I certainly did not want to hurt you…”

Like TWP, I really felt awful about the whole thing. When we headed back to the room, I warned all the other students about teasing but none of that happened. I then saw how Doug slowly sat at his desk and decided then to hold him out of his P.E. class which was one hour away.

When the class did leave for P.E., I was like the protective “mother hen” and insisted Doug stay in the classroom. Feeling concern about the paddling, I then chose to take a reluctant Doug to the school nurse so she could check for any bruising. This was not protocol but I really was concerned that Doug might be bruised.

I waited outside the nurse’s room and when she was finished, she told me.

Twin bruises…one on each cheek.

When I heard that, I had to cover my mouth to keep from going hysterical. I immediately rushed over to Doug saying, “Doug, I am so sorry about the bruises…Please…You have got to believe me…I would NEVER set out to cause anything like that!”

Doug put his arms around my waist and hugged me as tightly as any boyfriend ever had -And I did NOT care one bit and started to hug back. The nurse did whisper something and we stopped and looked at each other ackwardly. I then said in a soft tone, “Doug, you did deserve to be paddled but NOT bruised…Understand?”

Doug replied, “No hard feelings…But I will not use any more ‘cheat sheets’ for sure!”

“Yes, Doug…Please don’t…,” I answered as we walked down the hall back to the classroom.

After that episode, there was no more cheating -By anyone- and Doug was kept out of two P.E. classes until the weekend. In fact, while not a star roll student, Doug’s grades improved and he became sort of a teacher’s pet. While I did paddle a couple of others, I used a lighter paddle which achieved the desired result of only a short term sting without bruising.

Doug finished 6th grade and moved on to a 7 to 12 school down the road. I moved down to a 3rd grade position, which I had originally sought all along. I then got married a year later, had a baby boy soon after and three years after that was divorced.

Exactly 6 years from the time I last taught Doug, I received a “high school graduation invitation” from, of all people, DOUG! Please understand, this U.S. tradition is actually a de facto request for “gift money” as graduating high school seniors rake it in via as many as 100 or more “invitations”. I chucked to myself and rolled my eyes at the mailbox surprise. Since money was tight, I just sent Doug $ 5.00 and a congratulations note.

A few weeks later and after Doug’s big day (I didn’t attend because of a prior commitment), I got a phone call -FROM DOUG! He thanked me profusely for the gift $$$ and talked about his college plans. We chatted for a few minutes and then he floored me with a request.

Doug asked me for a DATE!  I had to laugh a little but quickly begged off saying, “I’m currently ‘dating’ someone…And I am too old for you!”

Doug interrupted and half whined, “Please, Ms. …., it is just a ‘dinner date’ for my favorite and the best teacher I ever had!”

I knew right then Doug would probably major in “sales marketing” because try as I could, I could not dissuade Doug from his “dinner date” idea. I finally agreed on one condition: That I meet him at the upscale restaurant with a chaperone -My 4 year old son.

Doug agreed as long as he picked up the tab. ( Spending some graduation $$$!) All that was o.k. by me since I had been out on a “dinner date” only once since getting married and hadn’t been to any upscale places in years.

Seeing Doug that night was gratifying. The kid I remembered had become a very nice looking young man that ANY girl would be lucky to have  -Which I told him. He returned the compliment saying that I was as beautiful as the day he first saw me. I blushed a bit though, thanks to my running and exercise, I had retained a nice figure.

We had a wonderful dinner and Doug was a 100% gentleman. Waiting on dinner, Doug noticed there was a grand piano from which classic ballroom dance music was played. Yep: Doug coaxed me into a few dances which I was the one who had to follow Doug’s lead. I hadn’t had a “date” like that since my own high school prom! But I insisted on paying the tip and for my boy’s “kiddie plate”.

As our dinner date ended, Doug escorted me and my son to my car. After buckling my boy into his seat, I turned and told Doug, “You are a fine young man and have a great future ahead of you…But we must part ways now so you can move forward with college and R.O.T.C. while I move on with raising my boy and my teaching career…”

Doug replied, “That paddling you gave me and the compassionate way you treated me when you found out…”

“Doug, that was very hard on me and I hurt for a long time about it,”  I choked.

“I knew how you felt and that is why I wanted to see you…Just to let you know ‘It is o.k.’ and that I have only the highest regard for you…” Doug responded.

I then embraced him and gave him a peck on the cheek and then admonished him to “make the best of his opportunities and that I was so confident that he would do well in whatever he chose to do.”

TWP, I sent you and your readers my experiences because not all paddlings, even the ones that go “wrong”, result in life long anger as some suggest. Last I heard, Doug graduated from college (Yay!) and is currently a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.

 

RENEE CHRONICLES pt. XXI

Forgiveness and Forgiving

This is a short abbreviated segment because the last two segments give a much better moral lesson. That lesson is Forgiving and Forgiveness. I was taught that lesson at a very early age as a young child and will teach it to my child as well.

My family is devout Christian and we try to live what we believe.

One of those beliefs for me is Lent which started this past week with Ash Wednesday. M y intent here is not a theological essay but rather, to state a positive truth. The 40 days of Lent involves introspection and repentance. When I was growing up, my family had a tradition of each family member at the start of Lent writing a short note to each of the other members apologizing for something they had done wrong to that person. We all then met with that family member in private and exchanged the notes. Talk about tears and hugs. Each member of our family was able to lift a weight off the others -And what a wonderful feeling that was.

In today’s stressed out world, wouldn’t it be great if everyone practiced “Forgiving” and “Forgiveness”?

Because hate, anger and resentment left inside yourself will (and does) only hurt you.

 

COMING NEXT: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A C.P. BAN,

TEACHER AFTERMATH II

&

R.C. pt. XXII

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: