Thursday, November 17, 2011


Don't you love that word, whinging? I was using it around my family recently and was surprised to learn that they didn't know what it meant. Someone even asked if it was a new word. Nope. According to Merriam-Webster, "Origin of WHINGE: Middle English *whingen, from Old English hwinsian; akin to Old High German wins┼Źn to moan. First Known Use: 12th century." (Source.) Anyway, whinging is what I feel like doing. It means moaning, complaining, whining.

I'm thankful that this is the last school day this week. (Tune in tomorrow for a post about the holiday we'll be celebrating.) For whatever reason, I've been struggling a bit with my teaching lately. I hate to even admit that, but I was talking to a colleague and she used the word "defeated" to describe another teacher's recent mood, and it struck me that maybe we don't talk enough about how difficult it is sometimes to keep coming back day after day to teach kids who don't seem to be getting it, or in some cases, don't want to get it.

So here goes.

I know better than to take the vagaries of middle-schoolers personally. I frequently advise other teachers not to. I know that the only way I can be loved by the majority of my students is in retrospect, and I take great pleasure in the visits of high school students who inevitably walk into my room, look around, sigh nostalgically, and say, "I miss your class!"

Nevertheless, in spite of knowing I should hold out for high school students to express that they remember my classes fondly, and not expect any appreciation from students while they are under my care, I do find myself taking the hostility personally sometimes. And I've been doing that lately. When the kids would rather talk among themselves and pass notes rather than pay the slightest bit of attention to my lessons, when they ask me the same question seven or eight times, not because they didn't understand but because to them I sound like the teacher in Peanuts ("Wa wa wa wa wa wa."), when they vandalize my bulletin boards (OK, "vandalize" might be a strong word, but they do pull out the staples and sometimes even remove parts of the borders from the bulletin boards in the hallway, which aren't under my direct surveillance), I sometimes take those things personally. I just want everyone to love me! Is that too much to ask?

Well, clearly it is too much to ask, and in my more rational moments, I know that. What's important is continuing to do my very best, teaching as well as I possibly can, treating the kids fairly and consistently, providing many opportunities for them to practice reading and writing. And that I will continue to do.

But I might still whinge occasionally.


Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

I've always wondered (but never bothered to look up), how do you pronounce it? If you said it and your kids didn't recognize it, I guess it doesn't sound just like "whining" as I'd imagined.

Tricia said...

I think whinge is a particularly British and/or Australian word. I only know it from reading - never heard it used In Real Life.