Lessons From Kids (Part 1)

Recently, I took a job as a 4th grade teacher. Full time for the first time since Anthony was born. It’s been a huge adjustment in so many ways. I’m exhausted (and now sick), overwhelmed and already behind – starting a classroom will make you feel like that. But I’m so happy to be back in my own classroom, in a different school and with my favorite grade – 4th. I’m already learning more from them than they could ever learn from me, and a really amazing thing happened today that I had to share more about.

After a really tough morning with a few students (that resulted in the entire class being agitated and heightened), we had a discussion before all the kids went home. These are some of the talking points that came up:

1 - negative behavior is usually a result of something ELSE happening in that person's life. Something that we usually know nothing about. We have to try to understand THAT when we don't understand the behavior.

2 - there are some behaviors that we can ignore, forgive or release because it's not our burden to bare.

3 – Kindness and grace are what people need the most.

And then, magic happened. One of the students that had been the top behavior challenge asked to speak to the class. She apologized. Like, a real life apology where she said what she was sorry for, and asked for forgiveness. And then she shared some stuff going on in her life that makes her sad. She said, “Sometimes, because I’m sad, it comes out as anger because I don’t know how else to deal with it.”

Ten years old, folks.

She talked about feeling sad about missing a father figure in her life. After she talked about this, I asked the class if anyone could relate to that particular feeling. I’d say at least half raised their hands (and so did I). And then kid after kid volunteered pieces of their story that involved missing a parent.

And all of a sudden, it felt like we all understood each other a little better. I asked the students if they felt like they understood this particular student and her behavior a little better after she shared that with us. They all enthusiastically nodded.

A few lessons for me here:

1-     Multiplication is important. But not as important as connecting with each other.

2-     I think if we can shift our empathy and our perspectives and our feelings and emotions, we can actually change behavior.

3-     When we are willing to understand each other, grace comes very easily.

4-     You never know what fire another person is walking through. So instead of throwing kindling on it, sometimes (most of the time) the best thing to do is sit with them in it.

Be good to each other.