A bad attitude and a misunderstanding

I had an altercation with one of my Grade 12 students today. We had a misunderstanding about an essay she had to submit. When I tried to explain myself to her (yes, teachers have to explain themselves to their students these days)she took no responsibility for creating the misunderstanding. I was dumbstruck. This conversation seems meaningless in the bigger scheme of my day but I couldn't get past it quickly enough.

We tried to have a conversation at the beginning of the lesson and she started pouting when I explained I hadn't checked her essay because she didn't meet the deadline (and blamed the email for not arriving in my inbox on time instead. I snapped at her and told her I had enough on my plate and by missing the deadline she had missed the opportunity to do well in the essay. I snapped at her and in retrospect I should have been the bigger person and kept my composure but I didn't.

When she looked at me blankly I wondered what kind of adult she will be. I wondered if she just had her defence up (even though I conceded to giving her an extension for the assignment) because she didn't get her way? The more I tried to reason with her she pouted and walked away mumbling something I knew I was happy I didn't hear.

Teenagers have a lot of attitude and at any given time and they are allowed to have a bad attitude in the face of  correction or when they are not allowed to get their own way. But I wondered, what would that attitude mean in a court room, a business deal, in a relationship (marriage or friendship). How far could that attitude take her in life? Could she be someone who will win with people in life? How does she deal with conflict in her other relationships?

By the time she left my classroom I was drained and the student was angry and vindicated because I'm a terrible teacher. I'll try not to ponder over the altercation any longer. Tomorrow's another day.


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