One of the more annoying situations a substitute teacher has to deal with is the constant tattling in the lower grades. The serious stuff we DO have to come down hard on, but the petty stuff really drives me to distraction.
I’m in my second day of a five day assignment when one 3rd grade boy confronts me with an intense attitude and seriously troubled look. He’s tattling about another kid who called him a name. The suspect in question was only three paces behind and chiming in that the first kid had shoved him.
My usual tactic in these situations is to deliver a short lecture about proper behavior at school and have them say “sorry” while shaking hands.
This time I decided to do something different.
Guys! I don’t know who did what first and I’m not going to try and find out. What I CAN do is put both your names on my report for your teacher and let him sort it out when he gets back or...we can settle this in a different way. You decide what you want me to do.
They both decided that “different” was the choice they wanted.
“Ok guys, here’s the deal. From now to the end of the school year you are best friends!”
(…both glaring at each other but not saying a word)
And as best friends, I’m going to give you nicknames to use when talking to each other.
(…both now looking at me with a suspicious look)
Pointing to the first kid I said: From now on your nickname is “NoseHair” and your nickname, pointing to the second kid, is “EarWax”. Now shake hands and apologize to each other using your new names.
Kid1: I’m sorry, EarWa…
(He couldn’t finish because he was laughing.)
Kid2: I’m sorry too, NoseHair!
(He was trying REAL hard not to laugh.)
They then ran off laughing.
Seemingly, whatever problems they originally had with each other appeared forgotten. If it lasts to the end of the year that's great. If not, at least they won't be bugging me again for the rest of the week.