The assembly was about careers, thinking about the future. African American community leaders were on stage in their business suits clicking pleasantly through overhead slides. With the exception of fidgeting, the five hundred or so students were respectful and quiet. Then, in the midst of a slide about the most lucrative careers, a young woman several rows in front of me popped up with her phone to her ear. She seemed to want to leave, except that before she did, she had to playfully squat down on top of the four friends sitting to her left. Not ten seconds later, she was up the aisle and out of the auditorium, cell phone pressed against her head.
This moment incited a question within me: Is this child rude or has she never been taught how to behave in an assembly or performance? Also: What makes that phone call so important that she would interrupt an auditorium with it? The answers have come slowly, if at all. From my experience as a teacher, I think this student probably has not been taught how to behave in an assembly, but more than that, she has not been taught how to think of the comfort and needs of others and how her actions impact others. Her social and emotional development needs attention and improvement. Thus, I began to think about a school's responsibility for character education and social and emotional development and where my classes might fit into that.