Sunday, February 06, 2005

Pushing the Button

When I was first hired as an RA, my boss said it would be a good opportunity for me to learn what behaviors "push my buttons." I hadn't thought of the job in those terms, but on nights like this, the phrase couldn't be more accurate.

We don't allow people to play sports of any kind in our floor lobbies. People can get hurt, for one thing, but the more immediate concern is the noise level. Sound travels in really strange ways in the residence halls, and it doesn't help that the RAs' rooms are right next to the lobbies.

A few minutes ago (a little before 10) I heard the sound of running/heavy footsteps, laughter, and squeals from both sexes. I opened my door and saw one of my residents putting some kind of wrestling move on a young woman I don't know (ours is an all-male floor). A group of about 10 other people were watching and having a grand old time. When I saw this, the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "I know I'm always spoiling the fun, but could you guys take the game of grabass to the basement or something?" It sounds only slightly clever in writing. In person I sounded like a dickhead.

I'm pissed off about this for two reasons. First, I can't seem to get my tone right when disciplining people, especially groups; I sound like an overbearing asshole. Basically I'm the RA you hated when you lived in the dorms. Here it is, five minutes later, and I'm kicking myself for not being more pleasant. So I'm frustrated because I've had many, many, MANY opportunities to get my tone right, but have so far just come off like an uptight prick. Not a good quality in a high school teacher.

Secondly, well, I'm pissed off because it was necessary in the first place. How many times do I have to tell people that 10pm on a Sunday is not an appropriate time to be noisy in the lobby? This, I think, is what scares me the most, that one of my buttons is people who have been told how to behave, repeatedly, but still don't change.


Okay. It's 45 minutes later. I just went down to the front desk and talked to some other RAs. It turns out I'm not the only RA who's lost his/her shit with their floor lately. They also pointed out that as a teacher I'll have a bit more power and authority than I do now.

So I can't go to bed with an entirely clear conscience; I still want to work on my approach to group discipline. But at least I don't feel like I'm the only person dealing with dumbass noise issues.


Blogger Shannon said...

I have the same problem Paul, with my preschoolers. However, mine is the opposite. When I try to be stern, it comes off as too soft and they don't listen at all. It's tough. :(

Oh, and since I'm here my new URL is: :)

9:21 PM  

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