The Day I Terrified my Students with Exclamation Marks

Do you ever get off topic? I do constantly.

Somedays, are better than others, of course. But today, today was just silly. I was trying to do a Number Talk with my students but I had picked a question that was too difficult. Trying to tease out answers from my students was like playing tug of war with a bulldog. So when I finally got a pretty good answer from one student I proceeded to follow the answer with two exclamation points and then, because I thought it would be funny, I added a half circle underneath to make a smiley face.

I know, I know, we are supposed to value all answers and do so in a professional way…to be fair, I had valued other answers I was just misguidedly trying to wake up my tired class. It seemed we all had a case of the Mondays…or well, Tuesday after Family day.

Instead of getting a mild chuckle, one of my students looked at me in alarm. Her eyes opened to a comic degree and she announced, “I am so terrified of those happy faces. Eyebrows should NOT be vertical lines.” Suddenly, the class erupted in chatter about the terrifying smiley faces. (Yes, I can be about as mature as a 4 year old and often put these smiley faces on student work.) I had no idea I was causing such trauma. My poor Grades 7 and 8s were feeling fear where I had been trying to bring joy. Vertical eyebrows. Who knew?

And that was it. I had lost them for the day.  Done. Over. Luckily, there was only about 15 minutes left to the day so I simply laughed and decided to try again tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’ll be more on task. Tomorrow my math lesson will dazzle them and they will all come away loving  numbers. (Or maybe not hating them?)

But today, today I scared them with exclamation marks.


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