Reaching Our Toughest Kids
I've got a crazy idea - every staff meeting, let's share our wins teaching the tough kids. Those failing kids who struggle with academics or behaviors, those kids that drive us batty. Whenever we break thru, or connect in even the smallest way, let's share that with each other. We'll fill our tool boxes and our spirits. I'll go first...
At my school we talk about Bill in nearly every PLC. He's mildly autistic, smart, and stubborn. His typical approach to the school day is to sit there and do absolutely nothing. Bump on a log! And our well-intentioned chats about him generally go nowhere. None of us know what to do to help him. But I think I just found a crack in his armor...
He's in my piano class, and most days he just stares at the ground. But I also noticed that he sometimes wanders the room straightening music stands, closing cabinet doors, and neatly arranging chairs. So when I started to get mad at him on Wednesday for doing nothing, a light bulb went on. I have this wall of about 30 ukuleles in my room, and they are held in place by these little wooden pegs with rubber bands at the end so they don't slide off. Trouble is, the rubber bands are always getting old, cracking, and falling off. Why not ask Bill if he'd like to help fix the rubber bands? To my thrill, he said yes! As he was busy twisting on fresh rubber bands, he said to me "too bad I won't get participation points for this." And I happily responded, "sure you will. This is very helpful work you're doing!" I figure, anything to draw him into the class, no matter how small.
But the real proof came the next day, when Bill showed up, sat down at his piano and started playing. He still had his share of shut-down, but he actually chose to participate a little. The bump on the log moves!
The Two Wolves
A principal I know uses this poem as a prompt for reflection with his teachers. Every day we choose between feeding the bad wolf or the good wolf! Which one leads to a more fulfilling life?
An old Cherokee told his grandson,
"My son, there is a battle between
two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy,
greed, resentment, inferiority,
lies, and ego. The other is Good.
It is joy, peace, love, hope, hum-
ility, kindness, empathy, and truth."
The boy thought about it, and
asked "Grandfather, which wolf
The old man quietly replied,
"The one you feed."