I appreciate honesty. As a matter of fact, honesty is one of the biggest requirements for my classroom community. My students know that I expect the truth from them and they should expect the truth from me. It’s a two-way street.
I guess they know that I like honesty a little too much. That might be the reason for the following exchange I had with a student in my fourth year of teaching.
Student: Can I be a teacher when I grow up?
Me: Of course! You just need to go to college after you graduate high school.
Student: Can I teach here or will I have to find a new school?
Me: I’m sure there will be a spot for you when you graduate.
Student: Well, when you pass away, I’m going to take over your classroom.
Student: Yeah, but I’m taking all the Mickey stuff down!
Just like that, she had already plotted to take over my classroom when I died and to dig a little deeper… Mickey Mouse had to go!
I laugh whenever I think of this exchange between the two of us. She was just being “honest” about her future plans. The next thing we needed to work on was tactfulness but that could be accomplished another day, right?
Weeks later, I asked the student again of her plans when she became a teacher. She stuck with her original plan. I wanted a little more information so I said, “How many years do you think it will be before I’m not a teacher anymore and you are a teacher?”
Her reply was, “Ten hundred years…. (she hesitated) or 11 years.”
There I had it, my timeline ranged from 11 years to “ten hundred” years. I felt a little better with these possibilities.
After our second exchange, I said, “Thank you for your honesty.”
She readied herself for a reply.
I was all ears. How was she going to be brutally honest this time? What truth bomb was she about to drop?
Student: “You have brown eyes that are beautiful just like mine!”
Me: “Thank you?” (Still preparing for the worst)
Student: “Oh, I want to say something else! You have hair like Justin Bieber. (insert adorable giggling) That’s all I wanted to say.”
There it was. Within a few minutes, I was told that I only had 11 more years to teach and I was compared to Justin Bieber. I guess it could have been worse, right?
After all is said and done, these are the conversations that last a lifetime. I will never forget talking to this little girl during recess and having a chance to hear what was on her mind. Maybe we could all use a little help in this department. You know the saying, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” She had that down.
Just make sure you don’t give someone only 11 years to live and compare them to an obnoxious pop star and you are on your way to open communication, just like that. Lesson learned.by