Instead of getting the joke – I gave a Long Form. Here’s what the student wrote.
Daniel (not his real name) asked for a Short Form, so I gave him a Long Form. I should have laughed it off because it was not actually a problem. Not every behavior is a problem that needs to be dealt with.
I did not get the joke because at the time Daniel and I were experiencing two different classrooms: I was experiencing one where a student was challenging my authority and disrespecting me. Daniel was experiencing one where he was making a light-hearted joke to a favorite teacher. Both realities cannot be true at the same time. I do not know for him, but my perception was altered by the fact that I was still frustrated by the actions of another student a few minutes prior. I was upset and probably waiting for a student to do anything that would allow me to show my authority.
A class has a certain vibe that you just have to feel in order to make good discipline decisions. You have to know when to act, when to laugh, when to give a referral, when to give a Short Form, or when to let it slide. It sounds like a daunting task but it’s not – at least it’s not if you don’t overthink it. Basically you just need to be in a good mood and you’ll make good decisions.
In teaching there are moments when you have to laugh. There are moments when you have to get the joke.