Thanks to the Bubble effect, junior high teachers grow thicker skins. Not because students are malicious (they can be, but we put a stop to that), but because some of their well-meaning-est comments are delivered with a zing.
Case in point: The other day I arrived late to school, due to a medical appointment. One of my students said, “When are you gonna be gone again? We really liked the sub.” Another student came to my defense, saying, “That’s not a very nice thing to say about Mrs. Acuña. . .” Before I could thank her, she went on, “. . .when she’s in the room.” Zing!
On another occasion, some students were discussing teachers who play favorites. I interjected, “Do I have favorites?” “No, you like everybody. . .” said one student. Before I could feel proud of my ability to treat all students fairly, he went on, “. . .because that’s your job.” Zing!
One last example: “Hey, Mrs. Acuna, nice haircut! It looks better than usual.” Zing!
I always say it’s part of my job to civilize my students. That sometimes means pointing out that what they said didn’t come out quite the way they wanted it to. Adolescence really is a hybrid time; we’re dealing with fascinating half adult/half child creatures.
When they zing us, we need to gently point out why that comment was actually a little hurtful. Most of the time they will be surprised but then see immediately how that could be true. Accept their apologies, try to minimize their embarrassment, and let it go.
Then grow another layer of skin.