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“The Shredder Junior”

Title – “The Shredder Junior”

By – Laurel

Think back to the 1980′s and try to remember a TV show called, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. Remember the four turtles who lived in a sewer? Their opponent was the tough “Shredder”.

In my two years of teaching fifth grade, I have come to be known as the “shredder junior”. I am one tough teacher! Although I love my kids like they were my own, I am very strict with them. I do not let them slide on anything. I have learned that you have to be tough and you have to care. You cannot do one without the other. If you want them to just be your friends, they will never respect and listen to you. If you only discipline, but do not love them, they hate you. You have to strike a firm balance.

I have a poster in my classroom above the door that says, “I’m tough on you because I care. I want you to succeed!” I tell my kids this from the moment they start fifth grade in August. I also tell them that I love them and I believe in them. I believe in setting the bar high, and having extremely high expectations. I believe the more you tell a child he or she can do it, they do it. In fact, they often strive for more.

Although I am known as a sweet, young teacher, I can “shred”. I can tell a student that I am upset with their decision (not them), and that I am disappointed in their decision (not them). I can tell them that I expected more and I am not going to accept anything less than their best. I tell them that I care too much about them to let them slide. I make them repeat the poster above the door, “I’m tough on you because I care, I want you to succeed”. Then I hug them and let them go.

Because I do this, I am the “shredder junior”. I can make a kid listen, cry, promise to do better and change their ways. I have been called “tough”. I have also been called “one of the most loving teachers”. This is because I AM tough… because I care.

A few days ago, I called a student out on the playground. He came over to me, after knowing I’d seen him throw a rock at another student. After I shredded him, gave him study hall for the next day, he stood back and looked at me.

“Mrs. G, you’re tough on me,” he said.

“Why?” I asked him.

“Because you care about me. Thank you,” and with that, he hugged me.

I am tough on my kids. It’s because I care.

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Laurel

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