In the awkward moment of calm after the chaos today, I slowly surveyed the classroom. Jerome was perched in his desk, knees by his face, turned toward the back of the room. Lincoln’s head hung low, as he squeezed a torn paper in his fist. Nikkya, Amber and Marcela were crying softly, and the echoes of my unpleasant tirade made the room feel thick with anger.
“Man! This would’ve never happened in my old class!
Your voice, stronger and clearer than I’ve ever heard it, sliced through the frustration in the room.
“I want to learn things!”
I could not contain my disbelief. In a matter of minutes, you transformed from a whiny, often off-task preteen from my 2nd period class into a scholar-leader of 3rd period. I have never heard you say that you want to learn.
Looking a Jerome, still contorted in the desk in front of you, you became a young man of conviction and leadership.
“Come on man, you need to get serious! Face the front!”
Jerome giggled awkwardly but refused to budge, while the rest of us held our breath in admiration of your courage and conviction.
“Now, come on. You know how to do this. Put your feet under your desk! Get with it. Sit up straight! Look at the teacher! Man, this is baby stuff. Move it.”
Not only did Jerome listen to you and change his actions, but did you notice that Lincoln lifted his head and dropped his paper? Even Julian straightened up and faced the front.
I couldn’t have done a better job of getting the class back on task. In fact, you showed more maturity and leadership than I did today. I let the frustration get to me, and I yelled. You took the same emotion and calmly but firmly addressed the class as one of their own and simultaneously as a leader who was ready to rise above pettiness and learn.
Honestly, I was initially against the schedule change that caused you to move to this class. As you witnessed today, there is a unique blend of personalities in this room that can bring out the worst. Or, in your case, bring out the best.
I am proud of you, inspired by you and thankful that you are in this class. I promise that you will learn in 3rd period. We all will, with your help.
All my love,