Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ladies First

Every day I bring the 7th grade class down to the lunch room. Their homeroom teacher is the lunchroom supervisor, so instead of having him go upstairs to get the class and then go back downstairs with them, he can go straight to the cafeteria to set anything up if needed. It's something I started doing two years ago, which was my first time not having a homeroom of my own. I like to be able to help out wherever needed since I don't have my own class, and this is one of the ways I can do that.

I'm very particular about a TON of things, which is probably why I heard yesterday from one of my colleagues that the new 6th grade class thinks I have too many rules. However, as our new headmaster said, rules are good if there is a purpose for them as opposed to just having rules for the sake of having rules. I remind the 7th graders every day that we walk in the halls quietly and in a straight line because if they don't, I will have them return to the classroom, sit back down, and start all over again. Yes, I have actually done that with classes in the past, even classes when I was just the substitute. Quiet lines in the halls are a requirement for all grades because other classes are still in session and because there should be order as the students are in transit to avoid any accidents or misbehavior. They need to be able to hear the teacher at any time if necessary.

Since I told them my expectations from the start, there is rarely need for correction when I take them downstairs to lunch. We are usually the first class there especially since most days I have them in class right before the lunch period. They know to line up by the door for prayer, and they know that my first set of directions will be "Stop at the fire extinguisher." Then the same thing happens every day as I say, "Stop at the top of the stairs," "Stop at the second floor," "Stop at the first floor," and then "Stop at the cafeteria doors." It's definitely a huge difference from my first year of teaching when I had my homeroom class pause in the hallway to tell them that they were too loud and exclaim, "Every day!"

The last thing I say before they can sit and eat is as follows: "Girls, you may go in ... boys, you may follow." Today I had the 7th and 8th grade kids with me so I said, "Girls from both classes, you may go in." I heard one of the 7th grade boys say to another student, "Why do the girls get to go first every day?" I told him that it's polite to let ladies go first, and even if he didn't think that was necessary, they get to go in literally 2 seconds later anyway.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I think that's one of the things that the kids should learn. When a male student (regardless of the age) opens a door and continues to hold it open for me, I appreciate it. Of course, there are plenty of female students who do the same, but I've noticed that there are fewer boys who will do it. I think it's a gentlemanly thing to let the women on or off the elevator first as the sons of the larger family down the hall in our apartment building know to do.

I did a quick Google search about the whole "ladies first" thing, and nowadays, there are people who say it's outdated and actually sexist. I, however, am clearly not one of those people who believe that it is. I mean, sure, the girl can do all those things herself and doesn't need that preferential treatment just because of her gender, but is it so wrong to think that it's still a way of being polite in our society? Do girls know how to open car doors? Absolutely. Is it a sweet thing when a guy opens the door for a girl (or when a husband opens a door for his wife)? I personally think it is. I remember my uncle used to say that opening the door was a test for the guy when on a first date, but the girl leaning over to unlock/open the guy's door was her test. Of course, that was before all the car doors opened automatically. Is any of it necessary? No, I don't think it is. However, is it considerate? Yes, without a doubt! Am I offended when Howard insists that he carry the groceries and our lunch in Chinatown on Sundays? No way! Could I carry every single one of those bags myself? Sure, I can, but I still appreciate that he still offers.

Maybe I'm just being a stickler about things like "Ladies first" and "Don't sharpen your pencil when someone is in the middle of speaking" and "Don't wave your hand around waiting to be called when someone else is speaking because it seem as if you don't care about what the other person is saying." As a teacher, I want to make sure my students know the subject matter, but I think it's also important to model and teach ways to be respectful even if it does make me seem like an old fart! Maybe it's just me, but I'm going to continue doing it that way anyway!

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