Wisdom

Seed 2

I am the teacher designated by my principal if he is off campus for the day. I have a good track record of peaceful days without incident.  Minor playground skirmishes, tiny teacher issues, and I only miss one reading group or two. But I have feared being called to a special day class for violence.

The other day both principal and secretary were out when the health clerk called me to go see a student who had pushed an aide against a wall and punched her repeatedly.  Ugh.

I made my way over to the building, working on calm and breathing, assisted by a big dose of cough medicine and a bad cold.  I felt weak and small and should have been home, except for that 2 a.m. text from the principal.

In the classroom, another aid was kneeling by the kindergartner assailant and she seemed to have established contact.  I motioned for her to lead the big eyed little boy outside where I invited him to follow me up the stepping stones into the sun. One step, breathe, another step.  It was a nice calming ritual for both of us.

I remembered his name. “Solomon, we’re going to have a meeting,” I said pleasantly, sitting down on the sidewalk.

“What’s a meeting?” he asked curiously.  The aide left us alone.

“A meeting is when you talk about things.  Important things.”  And I invited him to tell me what was going on.  He reported that it had been a bad day.

“Tell me what made it bad.” No reply.

“What’s the story of your bad day?” He looked down at his lap and fingered a pebble on the sidewalk.  The entire morning seemed to be replaying in his head.

“Your name is Solomon,” I said. “Have you heard of a very wise king named Solomon? He told people how to solve problems.”

His eyes eagerly met mine and he shook his head yes.

“Well, I am wondering what you think King Solomon would say.  What advice would he give you?” Solomon only thought a moment.

“He would say you should notice when you get angry.”  I truly was impressed.

“That’s very good advice, isn’t it?” I agreed as Solomon shook his head and breathed.  “Wow, I could do that, too.  I could notice when I am angry and then maybe choose to calm down. So, what could you do?”

“Notice when I get angry.”

“And then you could have a good day!” I offered. He squirmed and countered that it was already a bad day.  “Really bad,” he explained.

“What do you do in the classroom when you need to calm down?”  I stood up.  “Let’s find out how we can make this a good day.”

Solomon led me back into the room to the back where he belly-flopped on a carpet.  I got on the floor next to him and said, “Hey, let me show you how you do it.  Here’s how you really relax!”  I rolled on my back with arms outspread and took a big breath.  “Ahhh! So relaxing! I am so peaceful…”  He turned over and imitated me and we both laughed.  This was a rotation classroom, so I invited Solomon to show me his calm down spot in the regular classroom.  He looked disconcerted, so I said, “Let’s find one.”

The class was gathered up front on the rug with the teacher so we found a spot at the back of the room.  I invited him to try it out.  He said it worked.

We walked back into the adjoining room, the scene of the incident, and I said we were going to make a cool down kit that he could use anywhere.  I grabbed a skein of red yarn on a desk and borrowed scissors.  Cutting a length, I wound it around several of Solomon’s fingers and then took it off to knot it in a mini pom pom.

Solomon was ready to put the bit of fluff into his pocket when I said, “I need to show you how this works.” I modeled getting annoyed and then rolled the bit of string back and forth in between my palms.  I watched it and started to smile. “Try it and see if it works for you.”  He rolled it in his palms and smiled.

“Okay, so are you ready to have a good day now?” I looked into his eyes.  He was certain.  “I’m going now,” I explained kneeling down.  “If your teacher has to call the office again, I will have to call your mother.  I think it will be better to have a good day, don’t you?”

His nod of agreement gave me leave.  I walked to my classroom, relieved and a little bit happy.  It was so easy to be with him. Solomon, so bright and wise.

The next time I saw him, after my three sick days, Solomon was in the office reporting on good behavior.  He had a sticker on his polo shirt.  I came up to him to say hi and read it aloud, “I was a good friend today.”  I congratulated him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Wisdom”

  1. Wow! You’re amazing. You handled that situation so well. I’m so impressed by the skills you had to diffuse Solomon and integrate him back into the classroom. I can tell why your principal leaves you in charge!

  2. Beautiful piece LB! This story was worth the wait.
    The little sentence about anxiety for being called to handle special education melt downs grabbed me. I could relate.

    1. We are enjoying the friendship bouquet from you – and some downtime. All the best to my pd partner in crime!!
      Sitting down now to select teaching videos to use as inquiry into how writing workshop works for EL (for our friends at A.)

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