Friday, May 09, 2008

Words help

As students were gathering up their materials and heading to their next class, I called two girls over to my desk.

"Let me start with a question," I said. "Have I ever helped you out this past year?"

They stood there looking at me.

"Have I ever listened to your problems, tried to help you, anything like that?"

"Sure," one of the girls said. "Like all the time."

"Good," I said. "Because I was wondering if you could do me a favor? You know, since I've helped you out, maybe you can help me out with something?"

They stood there looking at me.

"OK, here's the deal," I said. "Just yesterday, I got an email from one of your classmates. I'm not going to name names, but I'm sure you'll know exactly who I'm talking about. In her email, she didn't name names, but I'm pretty sure I know who she was talking about. Anyway, her message was really sad. She said she felt that certain people were treating her like a piece of trash. That people were mean to her. And here's the thing. This girl, the one that wrote me the email, she's really a sensitive person. And she's actually really hurt by the way she's being treated. And so, I was wondering if you could do me a favor? Can you please stop it? I'm not asking you to be her friend, I'm not asking you to like her, but for me, could you please be nice?"

The two stared straight ahead. They looked like they felt really bad. I was afraid I was going to start crying, so I blamed my moodiness on the Vicodin I was taking, and continued: "I know a little about this girl's home life, and I can understand why she's sensitive. And that's why I don't want to see her hurt at school."

"Yeah, oh my God," one of the girls said. "When she talks about her dad, I get so sad."

"So, can you two do this for me?" I asked. "And here, let me write you a pass. You're late."

Later in the day, one of the girls stopped by on her way to her locker, told me that another girl in their class started crying when she heard about Hug Girl.

I saw Hug Girl after school. "How was your day?" I asked.

"Good," she said very seriously. "I talked to one girl. And she apologized about what happened yesterday. And I apologized. And then we hugged."

I don't know how long it'll last. But I have to say, here's another reason why I love my job and my students. Most of them are willing to listen. To help out. Most of them are actually really sweet and wonderful underneath, and are often unaware of their unintentional cruelty, but when it's pointed out, they can change. Sometimes they just have to be asked.


Anonymous said...

Some people don't realize their mistakes unless it's been pointed out. Thanks Mr.P!

Big apologies to Hug Girl. I can be a jerkface. Truly sorry. *hugs?* =)

Karla said...

Can I just say that you rock, teacher man? You handled that perfectly.

Polski3 said...

Super model of how to handle a sensitive situation. Should be included and practices by every middle-h.s. teacher wannabe !

Keep up the good work, there in Shaka-go !

darlene said...

Wow, what a super thing you did for all of those girls. you handled that in such a sensitive way and really made a difference, without blowing it up into a major production. I bet a number of kids feel a lot less alone with you as their teacher.

Thank you for all that you do for these kids. I am certain you are changing lives.