Just a quick note about a conversation I had with one of my students yesterday.
I had this student, a sophomore boy, last trimester and he is continuing in my math class this term. In our previous class together he was pretty quiet, kind of kept to himself. Now, he’s grown a strong sarcastic streak. He’s actually quite funny. But, like all teenage boys, sometimes he doesn’t know where to draw the line.
Case in point, yesterday he made a really distasteful remark pertaining to crystal meth use. Completely inappropriate. I asked him to stay in a minute before we left for lunch to chat.
Last year, and really all the other years I’ve taught, I think I would have said something about how the comment was inappropriate, in poor taste and quite possibly offensive. And I would have left it at that. Chastisement given, moving on.
For some reason, this time I did something different. I said to this student that he had crossed a line, but that I recognised that part of what he was doing in his joking was figuring out where the lines are. And I said that I wanted to help him figure that out, which was why I was speaking to him about this.
I’ve always felt that my previous conversations with students about crossing the line into inappropriate territory have been…awkward. I can’t put my finger on what about these conversations hasn’t worked for me, but I always felt like I was not communicating well. I guess those conversations felt more like I was talking at my students instead of talking with them. I communicated to this student yesterday that we were on the same side, and that we were going to work together. That felt much more authentic to me and my teaching style, as well as seeming much more effective.