Returned from a long weekend workshop to a not-so-great report from one of my classes…a fifth grade class. You know, the ones who are supposed to be my leaders. If there was any class to be concerned about, this would not have been the one I’d pick. I was disappointed to say the least. So the first day back started with a heart to heart chat.
While expressing my sadness over their actions and some missing candy, I knew the tears were going to start-mine, not theirs. A few of them did join in after a few minutes. My purpose in confronting the students was not to make them feel bad. It was about giving them a chance to make a good choice and be honest about what happened while I was gone.
We all make poor choices sometimes. All of us-no exceptions. And even though it’s difficult, admitting those mistakes brings growth and freedom. My students had the chance to make things right, and I’m proud to say almost all of them rose to the challenge.
Reading their apology notes later in the day, I once again found myself getting choked up. There were sweet assurances of their love and appreciation-covered in hearts and music notes, of course. For some, the realization and acknowledgement they had not fulfilled leadership roles. But the one that touched me the most-“I’m so sorry that I made you feel sad.” Wow.
Just as with my own children, I work hard to get my students to think about how their behaviors affect other people. Or how they would feel being on the receiving end of an unkind word or action. Today I learned that I must keep teaching those lessons. They really do listen! And when given the chance-make the right choice. A choice with the power to encourage this teacher to keep teaching.
Fast forward…the next morning at school (day after our little chat) one sweet student said, “My brother and I have something for you.” An entire bag of candy to replace what had “disappeared” while I was away. The amazing thing is their mom would have had no way of knowing what happened unless they went home and shared. It may seem like a small gesture to some, but for me…the best gift I could have possibly received.
Here’s to teaching! The lessons we impart, but more importantly the ones we learn along the way.