Saturday, April 5, 2008

Guys with Chairs

Yesterday in the computer lab, there was an incident, one of those things that makes you remember why you are so happy that you aren't in high school anymore. Two of my kids were joking around at the beginning of class, and the boy pulled the chair out from under the girl. Of course, people were laughing and I started yelling at the boy and the girl got mad and walked out of class. Here is why I was actually proud of both of them: The boy has had some major attitude this year, and earlier this year accused me of throwing his papers away and threatened to sue me for that reason. He has called me racist and basically been a jackass for the entire year. But about a month ago, he had to go to court for attendance issues, and he must have been in front of a judge that really got through to him, because he came back with a total shift in attitude. He has been in class every day, has a good attitude, is working hard, and is like a totally different kid. Yesterday, his first reaction was to apologize. You could see, the second he pulled that chair out from under the girl, that he regretted it. It was one of those moments you have when you are 15 (or 12 or 17 or 25 or older) when you do or say something and just instantly regret it. It's a part of growing up (hopefully). I was proud of the girl for this reason: This particular family has major problems with anger. Last year, this girl's sister punched a girl (and broke her nose) literally for no reason whatsoever. Earlier this year, this girl has flipped out on me, has walked out of class, has lost her temper and started cursing, has been expelled for getting in fights, but gradually, things have improved. We have a pretty good relationship by now and she talks to me about her issues sometimes. When the boy pulled her chair out from under her, she got mad, but she didn't say anything, she just walked out of class. She came back about 20 minutes later, and allowed the boy to apologize without losing her temper, and then sat down, worked on what I asked her to work on, and behaved very maturely. I was so impressed with both of them that I didn't want to write the boy up for what he did (I did anyway, but made a point of pointing out the positives). Sometimes in this job you have to look at the big picture and be thankful for the smallest of things. I know that someone looking at this from the outside will see only a discipline issue and I realize how dangerous that particular action can be (and so does the boy...we had a serious chat...and I did ALL of the talking), but with these particular kids, their reactions show such a huge growth in maturity that all I see is how far they've come.

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