The other day, during a sixth grade art class, I was introducing a new lesson while trying to compete with the Spring fever in the air. The kids were chatty, they were giggly, and they’re inability to pay attention, while amusing, was just not allowing anything productive to occur. I found myself continuously raising my voice for their attention. At one point, a girl in the back raised her hand. When I called on her she motioned me closer. And then she motioned me closer. When I got near she put her hand on my arm and whispered in my ear,
“You know, Ms. Art Teacher, if you talk in a soft voice, they’ll pay attention.”
I’ll admit, I was a bit taken aback. Maybe a bit is an understatement. I was amazed, and ashamed, that a sixth grader was providing constructive criticism of my classroom management. But she was right, and that was more appalling to me than the fact that it took a sixth grader to make me see the error of my ways.
Speaking calm and softly in the classroom is Teacher Training 101. And in this particular school, I have very rarely found myself raising my voice with the students. In the past. So what was happening? Why was I using my “Oh no, you’re in trouble now” Teacher’s Voice while providing instruction? Well, my list of excuses could go on and on, blaming everything from Mother Nature to pregnancy hormones to end-of-the-year burnout come early. But what it really comes down to, I think, is that I just forgot. Thank you, sixth grade girl, for reminding me what kind of teacher I prefer to be.