24 March, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

This is the story of how I try to teach my students about being kind to others and how I got a student suspended. (Sound intriguing?)

Last week, I had an adorable baby blanket and two onesies that I had just finished for one of the other 4th grade teachers. She is due any day now and I cannot wait to meet her third child. Instead of just giving her these things, I used it as an integrated writing/kindness lesson. In my class, we discussed how hard it is to be pregnant. Many of my students are the oldest in their family or remember their mom pregnant. We discussed everything that this teacher does and how hard she works. We went over the idea of doing random acts of kindness or service for others. Then, we wrote her a secret admirer note. Two of my students dropped the note and presents off at her door, knocked, and ran away. When they came back, one told me that she was shaking so hard because she was nervous. The students loved being gift giving ninjas and I wondered if that lesson made any impact on them...

Fast forward a day or two...

I had just changed the seats of every student. One of my boys, D, was mad at me. Extremely mad. Madder than I had ever seen him. So mad that as the class was heading out the door for lunch, he asked me, "What would happen if I kicked you?" Excuse me?
Later as I picked up my students from lunch, I watched him take a ball from another student and drop kick it as far as he could.
The vice principal had a little chat with him the next day about violence and threats and told him if anything happened in the future, he would be suspended. I thought he just needed a powerful figure to get after him. He seemed to calm down and I forgot about it. For two hours.
That same day, two hours later, I went to go pick my class up from computers. I was met with a chorus of, "Mrs. Jaeger! D punched G in the face!" Seriously? G is D's cute little cousin.
I walked my students back to class, turned on some songs for them to sing, assigned one of my girls to take over the class and marched D and G down to the office. D started to freak out.
"Don't make me go to the office! I didn't mean to punch her. I am so sorry."
G was just sobbing.
Eventually the vice principal pulled the story out of D. He was sobbing the whole time. She assigned him to in-school suspension for three days.
During lunch I am sure the rumors were circling because after lunch one of my students asked me if D would ever be in our class again. After telling my students that D would not be returning to our class on that day, but he would return, one of my students suggested that we write him a class letter to help him feel better. That touched me. Everyone saw what he did and yet they still wanted to do something kind for him. We wrote him a letter and I delivered it during a break.

After school, D gave me this letter.

Translation: "Dear Mrs. Jeager, I am sorry for all the troble I have been doing. I promiss I'll behave better. I'm so sorry I know I have been bad. I am sorry for that and I'll behave my self forever. Relly. I am so so so so so so so so sorry. From, D"

Some of my students picked up on the fact that I was not in the best mood after that happened and these three darling notes appeared on my desk

 This one is from a student that is blessed with the gift to love everyone no matter what. She gives me hugs on a daily basis and verbally tells me that she loves me all the time...even if I made her cry ten minutes ago.

This student writes me amazing notes all the time. She is a perfect student.

This student told me she drew me relaxing on a beach in Hawaii. The entire picture is done in green because what could be better than relaxing on a green beach under a green sun? Nothing.

I think they might have caught onto the random acts of kindness lesson better than I could have imagined.