What Happened Today…
Something happened today that nearly made me cry – and not sad, mopey tears as has been my norm lately, but proud, happy tears.
As you know I am a special education teacher. I work in a seventh grade English class with possibly one of the greatest English teachers ever – with the excpetion of my friend, Rhonda, who teaches directly across the hall. In addition to English, I teach, for a week at a time, every three weeks, a Resource Class. In this class, there are only special education students. We work on academic skills, organization skills and social skills, the latter being maybe the most important area in which these children need assistance.
To that end, I do something called “Positive Group” that I learned from my friend, Susan, who was, for twenty-odd years a school psychologist before becoming a teacher of ED (Emotionally Disturbed) children. On Friday the students have to give at least two other people in the room a positive comment. It must be more than, “Hey, I like your shirt.”
Telling each other to fuck off is really easy for them. Saying something positive like, I admire your sense of humor; you always cheer me up with your jokes, can be almost impossible. Happily, as the school year goes by it gets easier and easier for them, hopefully transferring over into their real lives.
Many students take the easy way out and compliment the teachers in the room, but at the semester change I told them they could only compliment one teacher then had to compliment a student, too. At the third marking period I will tell them they may no longer compliment teachers at all – unless they have already complimented two peers. They will freak, I am sure! Although, some have really taken to this and compliment everyone in the room – which makes me happy.
So, today was Friday and I went into the room, even though it is not my week, to check on the compliments. One of our students, George, has only been with us for about four weeks. Very emotionally disturbed, takes a lot of meds; he was only supposed to be with us for three weeks before being transferred to a day treatment program at another school. However, he is doing really well with us so he will probably stay with us through the end of the year – especially since transitions and changes are the most difficult thing for ED students to handle.
George is one of those who have really taken to giving compliments. Today he complimented everyone and expressed how happy he was that I had come into the room so he could compliment me, too. I smiled and thanked him for his compliment – something along the line of me being a great teacher: not only because I like Star Wars and am very understanding, but also because he knows that I am hard on them sometimes because I want the best for them in their future. That made me happy – but it didn’t make me want to cry.
When the other students were done complimenting each other and class was nearly over, George came up to me and asked if he could please speak to me outside in the hall. Concerned that something was bothering him – even though he seemed fine – I nodded and we walked out the door and into the hall. I closed the door and looked at him worriedly.
“Okay, George. What do you need, dear? Is something wrong?”
“No. I just…I wanted to say something but I thought it would embarrass me in front of everyone else.” He looked at me then looked at the floor.
A little more worried now, I asked, “What is it, George? Is everything okay? Is someone bothering you?”
“Oh, no, Ms. O! Not at all. I just wanted to say…well….I just wanted to tell you that…well, that you look just like a princess.” He smiled and looked at the floor again.
I just looked at him for a moment, startled, then replied, “George! Now I’m embarrassed! Thank you so much! That is one of the nicest things anyone has said to me in a very, very long time! Thank you!”
Embarrassed beyond belief now, George moved toward the classroom door. I opened it and we went in.
Just like a princess…That’s what made me want to cry. What a great job I have!