Tuesday, April 28, 2015

tap tap tap...

Little Johnny was in my class years ago.  He needed a larger amount of stimuli to keep his brain moving.  More than most kids.  In fact, the boy could not keep still!  Even early in my career, my classroom was not a quiet or still place.  Nevertheless, there are times in a classroom where a certain amount of still and quiet are necessary.  When those times occurred, Little Johnny made his presence known more than ever.

He loved tapping pencils. Loved it!  Unfortunately for the two of us, repetitive noises happen to drive me bonkers!  This gave us an immediate point of contention.  He would tap.  Often.  All the time.  I would take deep breaths at the same rate trying to keep my cool.

I would walk by him all day long, repeatedly giving him signs and discreet reminders that tapping was annoying to some people, including his favorite teacher.  Tapping was a habit he had developed to keep himself entertained when our learning activities didn't provide his brain with enough stimuli.  My reminders were an attempt to change his habit.

As with any true habit, changing it is a challenge.  The tough part to remember was that it was his challenge.  Not mine.  The class did need him to stop tapping.  I needed him to stop tapping.  But it was his habit so my reminders were simply my way to help him.  But like most teachers, I became frustrated a few times and my brain went to that place that doesn't help.

There was one time in particular that the tapping seemed more than usual and my patience was less than usual.  After several reminders, a brilliant idea must have popped into my head and come out of my mouth at the exact same time.  I gave him an ultimatum, "Little Johnny, if you tap your pencil one more time, I am gonna keep you in from recess and you are gonna tap for ALL 30 minutes!"

Four minutes later...tap tap tap tappity tap tap.

Ultimatums rarely end well when made in haste.  I decided to keep my word and punished myself by providing this kid with 30 minutes of approved tapping time.  I believe he perfected a few new tapping combos and learned the opening drum solo to Van Halen's Hot for Teacher.