“Those kids have a discipline problem!”
P.S. 305 in Brooklyn, N.Y. was my initiation into public school teaching. I was to cover a kindergarten class for the day. The Horror!
The kids got the bright idea to hide under the tables, and they wouldn't come out! The more I would yell, "Get out from there right this instance," the more insane-looking their laughs became. As if that wasn't bad enough, there was a minor flood in the room from the classroom sink--the horror.
I stopped by Dr. Gattegno's office (the Master) after work. When he asked how I was doing, I exploded, "Dr. G, those kids have a discipline problem!" He stopped what he was doing, looked at me and calmly said, "No. The problem is yours." I gave him an exasperating look. He proclaimed,"Remember, It is the difficult child that will teach you how to teach."
Just like that, my attitude changed; my entire body relaxed, and I smiled. I realized that preparing a lesson plan wasn't as important as preparing myself to subordinate teaching to learning. Thirty years later, I'm still smiling and enjoying the profession I chose. His advise not only helped me become a better teacher, it also helped me become a better person. Dr. Gattegno passed away in 1988, but his work still continues at http://www.educationalsolutions.com/