16. RENEE’S HALLOWEEN (AND FIRST) PADDLING & THE NEWEST FAQ’s

Dear Readers: We at TWP decided to change the topic of this week’s blog due to the approaching Halloween night that all of our students look forward to every year. Well, to be perfectly honest, I (Renee) do not really “look forward” to this day like during my childhood because of what happened my first year as a teacher about eight years ago. When I feel the first chill of Fall and see the green leaves changing into colors of orange and red, I do not think of trick-or-treating as in my childhood or of college pre-game bonfires and football games as in my college student years. Instead, my thoughts drift back to my first year as a young, idealistic teacher and what happened on that first Halloween: The first paddling that I ever administered.

RENEE’S HALLOWEEN (AND FIRST) PADDLING

If someone had told me during my first year of teaching that not only would I paddle one of my 3rd graders but would also write about it eight years later in a blog- my initial reaction would have been to report that person to the police! Please understand- I knew when growing up what corporal punishment was and also knew that ANY trouble in school meant much worse at home- so I was a well behaved young lady throughout my years in school. As a college student, I chose teaching because I have always enjoyed working with children going back to when I assisted my mother in the church pre-school programs.

So, there I was- a petite, red-haired, freckled faced, rookie teacher in her first year. The only way that I ever made it that first year was with the mentoring of Jean, a 25 year education veteran. Of course, teachers- even rookies- have to “fly solo” but I somehow managed. As to the paddle, I did not have nor did I request one and tried all the other classroom management techniques that colleges teach to education majors- with mixed results. It was a stressful first few months but I clearly remember Jean telling me,” I know that you are opposed to paddling but a day will come when the paddle may be necessary.”

Of course, I shook my head and simply said,”I don’t believe that will be needed…I have everything under control.”

Well, in fact, I did have things under control as to routine problems which were few and in between but teachers have to expect the unexpected. The unexpected would occur during a childhood favorite of mine- Halloween.

It was a cool and windy Halloween morning when a rookie teacher was introduced to a school tradition- teachers dressing up in Halloween costumes and a week earlier, yours truly was named as “school witch.” Well, I was able to match a black sweater with a black skirt and some dark brown leather boots and presto- the school witch! I eagerly anticipated the surprise for my class like a kid myself- but had I known what would happen, I would have just called in sick that day.

Besides teachers dressing up, the other traditions were “face painting” and small packets of free candy given out to the kids by their teachers. The “face painting” was because school policy banned students wearing costumes for safety reasons and that some could not afford to buy costumes. So, as an alternative, we teachers painted whiskers and moustaches with non-permanent markers instead. The packets of candy- one per child-would lead to trouble for one of my third graders later.

Looking back, I probably should have given the candy out just before leaving for lunch but the kids already knew about it and pestered me for it early. They were already giggling about my witch look with my home-made witches hat and saying,”You don’t look like a witch!” (I was kind of glad they didn’t think so!) When they chimmed about the candy after roll call and anoucements, I relented and passed it out and we got started on our math lesson.

Everything was going as normal until Greg, a happy-go-lucky chubby kid finished his candy and wanted more. I just smiled and shook my head while stating,”Thats it- there is no more candy!…Wait until lunch and you can have some ice cream.” The problem with eight year olds is that a few hours, from their perspective, might as well be three days!

But not always. One of the girls decided to save part of her candy for lunch time and put it in her desk. Later that morning, when the kids got up to go to the back of the room to pick out a book to read from the bookshelf, Greg attempted to open the girl’s desk- to steal her candy!

“Greg-for shame!…Let me not ever catch you trying to take something that belongs to someone else ever again!…Do you understand me?” I exclaimed.

“I’m sorry,” replied Greg and I was satisfied as everyone, including Greg, picked out a book and settled down for reading time. A liitle while later, recess started and that was when things turned for the worst.

As my students marched single file down the hall toward the double doors that faced the playground, everything started out normal. Like all other non-rainy days, the kids raced to the slides and swing sets while Robin (the other 3rd grade teacher) and I carefully watched for rough play and/or any accidents. But one student- Greg- asked to go back in to the rest rooms, to which I said, “Go ahead…Just be quiet and do not disturb any other classes.”

Something seemed strange about the way he went back in the building and after a moment, I decided to look into the hallway. And lo, Greg had walked past the boy’s room and was making a beeline for the classroom. Since he already had a jacket on, I knew (and feared) what his real intentions were.

I then scurried down the hallway after him as he entered the classroom. As I entered the room, Greg had his back turned to the door as he opened the top of Rhonda’s desk (the girl who saved her candy for lunchtime) and reached in and took the little packet of candy out. At first, I was dumbstruck and then irritated that a student of mine was this insensitive to his fellow classmates.

“What do you think you are doing?” I asked a startled Greg as I stood in the doorway, arms crossed with my hazel-brown eyes glaring.

Greg was quiet, meekly looking down at his shoes.

“So, this is how you treat your classmates?…By STEALING from them?” I pointedly asked.

Greg slumped back in his desk seat a couple of seats from Rhonda’s. I took a deep breath and thought,”This is serious…and I cannot just leave him alone in the room…Well, I guess this is a situation that requires some consultation with Jean- and no telling where this ends up!” I then felt a ritcher scale 6 headache coming on-I usually got those by 2:00 pm, not 10:00 am. “Yeah, Miss Cute Red-Head U.G.A. girl who wants to save the world from ignorance- Could have been an accountant, corporate manager, even an attorney- but nooooo, I had a “social conscience” and ended up a underpaid teacher and now THIS?” I thought to myself.

“Come with me,” I ordered Greg as we crossed the hall to the room of Jean, my mentor and no-nonsense disciplinarian. After explaining what transpired, I just assumed that Jean would tell me to take Greg to the office. Instead, she told me to wait a minute as she went back in her room. When she returned, what I saw made my eyes nearly pop out. Jean held in her right hand a small paddle like the ones that you see in stores with the string and rubber ball attached. It looked like two paddles glued together but seemed to be only 1/4″ thick. I started to shake my head but Jean interjected,”Renee dear, we have talked about this a number of times and I think, deep down, that you know it has come to this- So use it!” She then pointed the handle towards me- and a second later (but a moment that will forever be frozen in time for me) I took the small light paddle in my right hand and whispered to Greg to face the wall in the hallway and bend over. As I glanced towards Jean and the open door, I reached over and shut it saying,”Your class does NOT need to hear this!” Jean started to object but I was firm- only the three of us would hear anything and Greg would feel a stinging rebuke of two swats.

Taking careful aim, I thought to myself,”This is what I studied four years for with two honor societies memberships?…Good grief!” I then took a deep breath- my stomach was starting to churn- held the paddle back at a 90 degree angle and swung- connecting with a “POP” that probably startled me as much or more than Greg. I then reared back and swung a second time with a stronger follow through and louder “POP.” Greg gave an “Ouch!” to the second swat and flinched a little.

“That’s it?” a perplexed Jean asked.

“Yes, Jean- I do not think Greg will be stealing any more…Will you,Greg?” I asked as I handed the paddle back to Jean.

“No ma’am… I won’t ever do that again!” a downcast Greg replied.

Greg and I returned to recess time but I made Greg sit on the steps with me. He was quiet but then I noticed a single tear had caused one of his Halloween “whiskers” to smudge and that sight nearly caused me to cry myself!

I took him back to the room and consoled him as he wiped his eyes with a tissue. I patted him on the head and gently said,”I’m sorry about having to paddle you but I could not just let you steal from a classmate…after I had already warned you…Understand?” Greg looked up at me and nodded- then smiled- saying,”I think you are kinda nice…”

Smiling back, I had to turn away to shed a tear myself and then reached for the marker used to draw on the children’s faces and offered to touch up Greg’s “whiskers”- to which he instantly agreed.

Greg told me later that he had been paddled before-harshly-but did not want to get in trouble with me again because he “liked me” and did not want me to “get angry” with him. Of course, I explained to him that I never wanted to use a paddle in the first place but that he had to mind me when I told him not to do something. He seemed to understand and I did not have to resort to the paddle again that year.

Still, it was a hard day for me and I was “blue” that first Halloween as a teacher. As a child, that night meant for me trick-or-treating for candy. But as a grown professional woman, Halloween will always bring back the unpleasant memory of something I never set out to do as a new teacher: The administering of a lite-moderate paddling to a 3rd grader by yours truly and the emotional trauma that I felt afterwards. When I hear about the way all teachers who use paddles are unfairly lumped together as “ABUSERS”- That is the reason I decided to write the TWP blog: To give the teacher’s side on a very difficult issue.

THE NEWEST FAQ’s

Why did TWP choose to endorse the web site “Spank With Love” with that awful artwork depicting a reddened bottom of a child shaped like a heart on a St. Valentine’s Day card?

First, lets be clear about one thing: Just because we provide a blogroll link does not mean that TWP is in 100% agreement with that site. In fact, the four of us do not share the same opinion about the site either. The artwork non-withstanding, the only thing we agree on is that this site is not of the militant anti-spanking genre and that it actually discourages the use of spanking as a first resort in child rearing. Those reasons are why we linked our blog to the site. The artwork itself nearly caused us to reject the site but the Mission Statement tilted us to include it.

Why does your blog endorse a site, REB’S PADDLES, that promotes paddles as an adult fetish?

The first thing to do is to read our disclaimer in the IMPLEMENTS and TECHNIQUES blog we at TWP wrote a month ago. Then, if you read the entire blog, you will find that we approved of only one paddle called THIN and disapproved several others with one called TAKE ALONG that was given a moderate rating. TWP endorsed no other product on the site and has no plans todo so. Our “endorsement” was certainly “lukewarm”- at the most!

In a previous blog, TWP mentioned Cartersville, Georgia. Is the school y’all teach at located in Cartersville or the state of Georgia?

No and no. The Cartersville reference was given as a contrast to the cultural norms that might prevail in Buffalo, N.Y We at TWP will never give our town, county, or state location for obvious reasons. Also, please do not bother the school system down in Cartersville, Georgia-They already have enough on their hands (like we do) taking care of their schools and kids.

Why does TWP refer to anti-corporal punishment advocates as “anarchist?”

First, we do not believe ALL anti-corporal punishment advocates are “anarchists”- but we believe that a radical fringe has pretty much taken over the “anti” movement. As professionals, teachers also disagree on the merits of c.p. At the same time, these anti-c.p. teachers do agree that rules on student behavior are a necessity for learning to take place. The radical fringe rejects rules,teacher authority, and the formal school education system itself and advocates classrooms where no authority exists and the students are left to “find their own way.” It must be understood that humanity made a decision about 4,500 years ago to try “Civilization” over “archaic tribalism.” In contrast, we at TWP have received some reference materials on “anarchistic educational theories” that have been rejected by nearly all mainstream educators. Finally, as to namecalling such as “anarchist,” just remember-If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out! Referring to teachers who paddle as prostitutes, porn stars, rapists, and lynchers is WAY OUT OF BOUNDS! (Hey Mr. Jordan Riak, we at TWP think you owe an apology to the real victims of rape and to the families of lynching victims. How about it?)

COMING NEXT: A TEACHER/PRINCIPAL’S PAST AND PRESENT TROUBLE

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