the silent game

This was a very challenging week with my students.

I love them dearly and have great relationships with them, which I think in turn has made them feel very safe to be themselves in my classroom. Of course, this is the goal. However, sometimes I feel students can get too comfortable and forgot to treat me with respect.

On Friday, I asked that my Assistant Principal come in and have a talk with them to remind them of some of these things.

After the talk, we got right to work. I started passing out their manila folders (they prefer to call them “detective folders”) full of research on their chosen argument topics.

I had several kids come up to me and say, “Sooooo, based on that talk, I take it we aren’t going outside today to end the week?”

I really couldn’t believe they were asking that, but what I said was, “I really don’t feel like we deserve that.”

In the midst of passing out detective folders and papers, I had a student return to the bathroom to tell me that there was a fight in the bathroom that he broke up.

“Were there any adults around?”


Off to the bathroom I went, leaving my students for a moment, who were seemingly already un-phased about the talk we just had.

My ongoing thought reel was, “You can’t be serious.”

After a 10-15 minute discussion outside my classroom door (I’ll spare you the details), we came to the determination that my student who said he’d broken up the fight, had indeed started the fight. Yes, started it.

Great. There goes 15 minutes of my instructional time to a fib. As I turn to head back into the classroom, I brace myself for complete mayhem, which is usually what happens when I leave the room even for a minute.

To my utter surprise, it was completely silent. Completely.

As I walked to the front of the room and glanced around at them with squinted eyes, I met the eyes of 25 grinning students.

Now my ongoing thought reel was, “What is going on?” It is not an exaggeration to say this is the quietest I had heard them the entire year.

A student raised their hand. I called on them, and they said, “We are playing The Quiet Game,” to which every student turned and pointed at them with their eyebrows raised as to signify they had lost.

After some discussion, they agreed that if I called on them, they could speak.

One of my girls, who leads us in song frequently, said, “Alright everyone, Quiet Game starts again in 3-2-1.” They all turned to face me and listen to the lesson, grinning from ear to ear.

I looked at nearly all of them individually, as a smile spread across my face. I started to shake my head and laugh. I may have even put my face in my hands.

I’m not sure how this happened. In the 10-15 minutes I was outside the classroom door, they had somehow conspired to play the Quiet Game. The amount of times I’ve seen them all agree on something is few (they are spirited). I don’t know if they knew I needed this, or if truly, they just wanted to play a game. I don’t know if there was fighting and resistance to settle on it. I don’t know who’s idea it was. I don’t know if my leaders took over in a moment of weakness, if my talkers decided they had pushed it too far, or if they met in the middle.

All I know, is that my pent-up frustration, anger, and irritability melted away in a matter of seconds. I wanted so badly to be mad at them. And here I was, laughing, again.

One of my students raised his hand. I took a breath and called on him, which made it okay for him to speak. He said with a smile, “Ms. Michaelis, I knew we could make you laugh when we’re talking, but I didn’t think we could make you laugh being silent.”

Me neither kid, me neither.

love always, caitlin 🙂


2 thoughts on “the silent game

  1. The first half of your post sounded like my Friday! You wonderful kiddos surprised you though. How sweet! I hope my students decide to play the Quiet Game soon too.


  2. Ugh, those days are so hard when you see instructional time slip away because of SEL needs. (Of course, those always come first, which is why we pay attention to them so closely.) But the quiet game was amazing! So glad your students gave you that gift.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s