When The Student Is The Teacher
--by LittleMiss, posted Feb 12, 2016
I follow many of my students on Instagram so I can keep up on their lives away from school as well as look for any cyber bullying. On Monday evening, I received a direct message from a boy who had someone write a very mean message in his locker. He took a picture of it and sent it to me asking for help. I assured him that this is not what we are all about at our school and asked him to meet me at recess the following morning. He said he would, and we left off with him feeling as if he had been heard and me feeling honored that he came to me.
A few hours later I noticed on his Instagram that he had posted the picture of the mean note and asked if anyone knew who it was. I made sure to comment that we were looking into it to give the person who did it a little push in coming forward. I thought it was very smart of the boy who had received the note to reach out via social media because this is where the kids live for so many hours of the day. Well, the next day when recess came, the boy came to me and another boy was with him. The boy who had received the note showed me another note he had received. But this was a beautiful, heartfelt apology. I asked him if he knew who had done it, and the boy who came with him replied, "It was me. I don't know why I did it, but I know it was wrong and not at all kind. So I wrote him this note. I also wrote 150 Post Its with kind sayings on them and put them in all the lockers. I just wanted to do something to try to make up for my meanness."
I was blown away. My heart felt so full of pride and love for this brave boy, I thought it would burst out of my chest! I told him how courageous I thought it was for him to come forward and how amazing it was that he did something kind in return to try to balance his mistake. I turned to the boy who received both notes and asked him if he also recognized the bravery and could forgive. Without hesitation, he said, "Yes. Definitely. And if anyone tries to be mean to him for making a bad choice, I will stand up to him."
I think middle schoolers can get a bad name because it is such a precarious age. They are stuck between being children and growing up, and it is so difficult to navigate. But these two boys both showed me that coming forward when we need help is so important, and coming forward to admit a wrong is vital. They both showed bravery, compassion and kindness in a way I would not have expected. Every day I am reminded that although I am an educator, my students truly teach me.