Sometimes as a teacher you are lucky enough to be able to witness the purest and simplest acts of kindness from one student to another and in that moment the reasons that often take you down the road...why am I teacher...fade away and you want nothing more than to share the story with anyone who will listen.
I feel like this story should start with this preface: the last group of students we
pushed out the double doors said goodbye to in June was a rough class. I loved them but they needed all the love in the world and then some. They celebrated when students got hurt in 'school yard fights', wore badges of honor for each teacher who didn't return and were the type of group that was so focused on themselves they didn't care who they pushed down or stepped on to get to the 'top.' Don't get me wrong they weren't all like that but it was very much the feel of the entire class as a whole. So for me random acts of kindness were so few and far between that they had me crying silent tears about what the future holds for them.
But this year, this year my students are so insanely different it would be like comparing lions to bunnies. We have of course had our share of fights but the overall feel of the school is camaraderie and not the set of Dangerous Minds...too far?!?
Which leads me to tonight's story...
Every football game day the football players and cheerleaders are required to dress up, the boys wear a collared shirt and tie and look so dashingly professional that I wish that was the dress code everyday. Given our population, title one inner city school, you can imagine there are quite a few students whose parents either can't afford or won't purchase 'dress' clothes for their sons. If their not dressed up, they don't play that night. Period. Our communities in schools(CIS) office does a good job of stocking dress clothes for the boys with the highest needs.
Our first football game rolled around in September and at morning duty I was blown away by how seriously this group of boys took the game day rule: suspenders, brief cases, freshly starched shirts...
I made it back in for first period, my first time having a first period ever, and in walked multiple half put together or not even closely put together football players.
One girl simply started tying ties and tucking down collars of all the boys to help them out. Another put down his briefcase and informed me that each football player needed to head to CIS for clothes. I of course followed directions, he had a briefcase, and one by one players came back some what put together.
One of our taller boys came back with pants two sizes too large and about a foot too short, another boy in class offered up his belt so the students pants would stay up.
But one of my favorite 8th grade students was just too large for anything that CIS had to offer, so dejectedly he said he didn't care to play anyways. No one in the room believed him, they spent the rest of the day asking around to teachers and other students to locate him a shirt and pants. And by the end of the day he was dressed per coaches standards due to a 7th grade teacher but mostly due to the power of the group of my first period students who wouldn't let him sit the first game out.
So began the tradition of getting every football player properly put together during my first period class this semester, and I can promise I haven't lifted a finger just sat back and given them the time and space to help each other succeed. And as we approach our last playoff game tomorrow evening I plan on cherishing first period tomorrow and enjoying those little moments of kindness.
Sure bell to bell instruction is important and they should probably be getting ready at home but life isn't black and white and there is a bigger lesson to be had here, a lesson on how to treat your fellow man. And if I were to give them a grade on that they would be acing my class. Hands down.