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The Cleansing of the Classroom

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  After a leave from teaching this fall, I returned to work, taking up my customary position as the feared dictator of a grade-five classroom. The physical space is tight this year. Twenty-eight students are crammed so close together…when I have an EA helping, she doesn’t even have a place to sit. Yes, my classroom “needs to be at least three times as big.” So, discipline is a must.   The first day I was so busy laying down the law and making threats, that I didn’t have time to teach. For as Machiavelli wisely states, “it’s better to be feared than loved.” But on the second day, it was time to get busy.   “Silent reading time!” I barked. “And I mean   silent !”   “Aww! Do we   have   to?” echoed a chorus of shrill voices akin to being stoned to death with popcorn.   “Yes!”   “Mr. Millette!” came a challenging voice from the back, “I think I need glasses?”   “Why!?!”   “Because I can’t see any muscles on you!”   Very feared.   That first silent reading session lasted not even five minut