“Sir… Sir… Dean’s just called me the F word”
Dean and Oliver (names have been changed) were in Year 2 and this kind of language was very rarely heard in our school. I went from normal teacher to verging on the edge of incandescence in 0.37 seconds.
“Dean. Here. Now!”
Dean looked sheepish. With a hangdog expression, he made his way towards the front of the class, each footstep heavier than the last until eventually reaching the spot in front of me.
“Well?” I demanded. “What have you got to say for yourself? What on earth happened to make you say ‘that’?”
Dean’s head sunk even lower as he mumbled an explanation.
“Dean,” I said. “look at my eyes when you speak so I can hear what you are saying.”
Dean lifted his head. He could see the fury in my eyes and that I was ready to explode.
“Oliver called me an idiot, Sir.”
“That is no excuse to use the kind of language you used,” I replied. “Do you know how rude that word is? You won’t hear me or any other members of staff using ‘that’ word. I think your parents would be very upset when they find out you have used ‘that’ word.”
Dean’s head almost touched his toes at this point. I glanced over at Oliver. His face was a mixed of shock and confusion. It was as if he knew that the word was wrong, but he was shocked at the level of reprimand I was laying on Dean.
And then a light switch illuminated in a small, dark corner of my brain…
“Dean,” I said with the dawn of realisation rising in my early teaching mind. “Please can you quietly spell out the word you used?”
Dean raised his head. He looked into my eyes. I nodded, the shock and anger draining quickly from my face.
“F – A – T”
And that was the day I realised that when I am dealing with ANYTHING a 6 year old said, I have to make sure they actually saw/heard it and also to find out exactly what was said and why before I show any emotion.