I feel like Miss Trunchbull: A Teacher's Confession

When a teacher says, "It was just one of those days...", only other teachers can actually understand what that means. And today was one of those days.

Do you remember the movie Matilda? Do you remember sweet Miss Honey? She was the beautiful, unendingly compassionate teacher who could see Matilda for the marvel that she was, and believed that her life was remarkable, despite what her family constantly told her.

This is who every girl who studies to be an elementary school teacher decides, before she ever gets her own classroom, who she is going to be. I always knew that my students would see me as their own Miss Honey. 

And then there was Miss Trunchbull. The evil, child-hating headmaster of Matilda's school. She locked children up in the scary "Choky" room, and made that chubby boy eat all of that chocolate cake in what is still one of the most disturbing movie scenes I think I have ever seen.

This is who I feel like most of the time. I like to think I'm not alone, but maybe I am.

One of the harshest realities that I have had to face in my 1.5 years of having a classroom all by myself is that not every child actually wants a Miss Honey. They don't all trust me right away. I teach 4th grade, and some of my kiddos don't have a very consistent home life. My super-sweet, I-think-you-all-are-unique-snowflakes approach the first few weeks of school is probably nauseating to those students.

Not every student needs a Miss Honey. Some parents are busy, and aren't around to lead or mold their children. Some parents are unsure of how to balance having a good relationship with their child and demanding respect. It falls on my shoulders sometimes to teach kids (in 4th grade) how to share, apologize, empathize (the hardest one). Sticky-sweet teaching doesn't do children like that much good when put into practice.

Today, I got so frustrated with a student that I said something that embarrassed him in front of the class. I was reprimanding him for a careless error that ended up harming another student, and in my correction I started to feel angry. He seemed so...apathetic that he had hurt this girl. I let my shortcomings come to the surface, and I yelled. And I could tell it embarrassed him.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who has ever done that. 

I apologized to the student, because it's also important to me that my students see what a true, sincere apology looks like...and that sometimes in life you have to apologize to people who make mistakes. Because the way you respond to others' mistakes says a lot about who you are, and I did not respond in a way that I was proud of.

Approximately 25 minutes later, I had pulled two different students to a reading group, and as I was sending them back to their seats, I said something like, "Oh, I just love having you two in a group!" One of the boys turned back to me, looked me dead in the eye, and said "We love you, Miss Hannah". 

That was when I really felt like Miss Trunchbull. These kids love me. Even when I lose my cool. And my actions should show exactly how much I love them. 

I know comparing myself to a child-absuing character is a little extreme...no child loved Miss Trunchbull. But a coworker ( a new 5th grade teacher who has my group from last year...my first group ever), said to me a few weeks ago, "I just want to be Miss Honey...but they make me Miss Trunchbull", and it was the most perfect comparison. And today was just one of those days.

Stephanie Sutherland