I had a rough day. I yelled at my class. Not screaming. Not red-faced, embaressment, pull-out-the-shrapnel-from-the-wounds yelling, but yelling nonetheless. I aplogized and then yelled minutes later. I can blame the heat. I can blame the failure of a site to load the information properly. If I was really cynical, I could blame my class. It’s the fault of those hormonal teenagers for acting like hormonal teenagers and forcing me to act like a hot-headed, arrogant thirty year old on a power trip.
So, I stop and I breath and I breath again. It takes more effort than it should.
“I need your attention,” I say in a voice barely audible among the humming fans of the netbooks and the white noise of the aged air conditioner trying to do his job.
“I’m sorry. I don’t want to yell. I don’t want to be a teacher who yells or a father who yells. Truth be known, I’m sure some of you are scared. Some of you have had men in your lives who yelled and it scared you. And if it doesn’t scare you, that might be just as tragic. I’m sorry for yelling.”
A few students speak up and accept the apology. A few more speak up and apologize for their own behavior.
It’s awkwardly beautiful and profound for its brokenness. One of the greatest gifts of teaching is the chance to offer and accept an honest apology. Not going to find that all too often in a cubical.