too much structure?

So the underlying theme for my conferences seemed to be how "structured" I am. Some even went as far as to refer to me as strict, HIGHLY structured, tough, or my personal favorite that required no words- a karate chop into their other hand repeatedly, lol. It didn't feel like a criticism or a compliment really. Though one parent claims to have requested me because of my reputation for pushing or not being easy on my students.
This all just leaves me wondering where they get this apparent observation.
As teachers, sometimes we don't realize how our facial expressions, body language, words, actions, notes, etc are interpreted.
I don't describe myself in general as structured, lol. In fact, if you were to ask my husband, friends, family, they'd probably laugh at that. I am better described as random, spontaneous, deeply feeling, and even scatterbrained at times. My colleagues, especially those closest to me, would probably tell you I'm the one most likely to forget to bring M&M's on the day I had scheduled to do M&M math! Ha! ;)
The point is, while I am dedicated to providing a structured environment at school because I feel it is most beneficial to students, I myself am not all that structured! I am very flexible, up for anything, easy going and mostly go by my instincts (my hubby calls that "flying by the seat of my pants" lol.) If I forget the M&M's, I jot it down for the week of Thanksgiving, tuck the papers away and jump right into an addition facts battle! If I see a teachable moment brought on by an unpredictable event or question, I run with it and save the planned lesson for later in the week.
Perhaps this "structured" comment is meant for my classroom discipline methods rather than academics. In that case, I still wonder. I don't send kids to the office. I don't send discipline notes home but very rarely. This is the first year I've ever even used a visual behavior method (chart where they move their clip down for infractions.) The most "punishment" I give is to miss 5 or 10 minutes of their recess. I focus on procedures rather than rules and feel that in most cases, a corrective glance is enough to redirect a student. Is this structured?
Maybe it's simply my class environment, where children are expected to stay in their seats unless they need a tissue or new pencil from my desk. Is it the raising their hand, asking permission, waiting their turn, inside voices, walking in the hall? Don't all teachers require the same? I wonder where I fall on the "structured" scale in comparison to my building, region, state, etc.
Is it a perception parents have gotten due to my newsletter, webpage, class discipline plan, conferences, comments and interactions. Do my students go home and raise their hand to ask permission to go use the bathroom? LOL!
I don't know, but I do know that parents are often wrong in their judgements of teachers. Boy do I know that. Just last week I had a lady criticizing a wonderful teacher who I admire & respect greatly by saying she was "grouchy and needs to retire already!" I told her I didn't know anyone who had more patience with kids and that I definitely disagreed with her on that one!
Perhaps I've come across as hard and not let my softer side show enough. Parents do seems surprised when I am praising their child in conferences and telling them how glad I am to have them. This kind of bothers me. I love my kids, always do, there is no exception to that rule. God does that. I pray for Him to do that for me. I pray everyday for God to help me see them through His eyes, see their needs, help me connect with them in a meaningful way that helps me make a difference. I pray that He make me a positive influence in their lives and makes me a better teacher beyond just (me) so that it be all to His Glory! If I'm going to do a job I feel called to do, I'm going to let Him equip me for it and not lean on my own understanding! I pray that He uses me how He sees fit even when it pushes me beyond what I feel I can handle. There are moments that I fiercely regret this prayer, LOL ;) but I know that He's in control so I have nothing to fear really. I also pray that parents see my heart and that He give me favor with them so that nothing stands in the way of our teamwork to their child's success.. but now I'm rambling.
Maybe "structured" isn't a good thing or a bad thing, but it's still subject to opinion if you ask me- as most judgements, comments, and criticisms are. I guess I'll just have to take it at face value and know that, with a grain of salt, it's always good to hear how you come across as a teacher.


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