Sunday, September 5, 2010

An Eye for an Eye...middle school style

So my Classroom Management class definitely paid off on Friday.  Not because I had a middle school rebellion in my classroom that I had to subdue, but because it helped me to hear one of the funniest things I've heard come out of a kid's mouth in a long time.  In Classroom Management, one of the most important things I learned was "teach from the feet, not from the seat."  It's great advice.  When you walk the classroom constantly, kids are more on alert that you're nearby, and they're less likely to act out or talk while they're supposed to be working.  So I was walking around the room at the beginning of class while all the students were getting settled, and I overhear this conversation.....

7th grade boy #1: This morning, my little sister's kitten bit me--so I bit it back.
7th grade boy #2: Dude, you did what?!!
7th grade girl: Oh my god, did you hurt the kitten?!
7th grade boy #1: I mean, it bit me first.  So I just bit it back.  Then I brushed my teeth--A LOT.

First of all, this story is completely true.  I know, it may be difficult to believe, but this actually happened.  It took a lot of self-control on my part not to fall apart laughing when I heard this conversation take place.  I can only hope that more ridiculous quotes like this come out of this semester.  Anyway, it was hilarious at the time, but later in the day I started to really think about this little conversation.  What kind of wisdom, you might ask, can come out of this?  It struck me yesterday that what this student was describing is just an extremely strange example of the type of retribution we see taking place in middle schools, high schools, workplaces, and everywhere else everyday.  An eye for an eye...a bite for a bite?  I can see the connection.

However, that's not the wisdom in "7th grade boy #1's" statement.  The wisdom is this: You can give back to others what they dish out to you, but it's definitely going to leave a bad taste in your mouth.  While biting a kitten is weird, it made me think--how many times have I made a biting comment or judgement, only to find myself to be the one more hurt in the final outcome?  People will always be willing to dish out negativity.  It's a harsh reality of life.  I see it everyday between the students, just as I see it everyday among my friends, or in an overheard conversation in a restaurant or in any number of places.  When we're hurt, why is our first instinct to get even?  And what would happen if we all did what our mother's suggested and "killed 'em with kindness?"

That's my goal for the week.  I don't want a bad taste in my mouth.  It's unfortunate when people take the time out of their busy lives to bring others down or hurt them.  But it happens.  My challenge for myself, and for anyone else, is to rise above the "bite for a bite" mentality.  Be unflinchingly positive when faced with negativity.  It can only make you stronger.  And you won't have to worry about that bad taste in your mouth.

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