Saturday, April 16, 2011

Teaching Compassion Through Confusion

I have a vivid memory of fighting with my sister as a young kid and my father walking in to break it up.  In anticipation of being scolded and having a talk, I can remember being horrified by the next thing that came out of his mouth. 

“Why don’t I just leave you guys in this room and lock the door until one of you kills the other one.  Then it will be solved.  It looks like that is what you are trying to do anyways.”

The words were so horrifying and so Mike Adams, that it made me realize how truly stupid I was acting.  He won.  The fight was over.

My students, "The Firecrackers", know that empty sorries are pointless.  We discuss the fact that it is nice to follow up a sincere apology with, “What can I do to make it up to you?”  They also know the importance of even checking in a bit later with, “Hey, are we still cool?”

As a teacher, I know that my hormonal mini people are still getting the hang of kindness and compassion.  It is my job to foster these communication skills.  It is also my job to stay sane by entertaining myself a bit…. Soooo… once in a blue moon, I switch it up.

The umpteenth time I hear ten kids come up to me and tattle about “one kid saying such-and-such to so-and-so, who said that he loves so-and-so who in reality, really loves so-and-so”, there is sometimes only one answer.  The answer is the less traditional mediation route, which involves bursting into a related song such as “Who Do You Love?” or “Love Me, Love Me, Say That You Love Me.”  All of this occurs as I fling my hands in the air to simulate dorky teacher dancing.  This usually solves the problem because the students either laugh until they forget, or figure I have greater issues than they do.

Times like these are equally as fun when a child knowingly asks me a ridiculous question.  I have found that now and then, when the kids can find their own answer, it is alright to bypass the teachable moment.  Instead, I reference something that will fly over their head and get them to stop asking stupid questions.  The more ridiculous the better. For example:

“Why can’t I stand on the chair next to the two story window?”
“Because then Eric Clapton may have to write another song.”

“Madam Jennifer, are you and Madame Jessica (teacher and my roommate from New York) friends?”
“Ever since Biggie died it has been a little rough.”

“They won’t share the basketball.”
“The phone goes green, green, and I pink it up, and say ‘yellow!’”

Please know, that nine times out of ten, my students hear a traditional, hearts and flowers response in regards to making friends.  The other one time, I can’t lie.  I enjoy seeing the kids shockingly smile and laugh when their teacher use a less traditional approach like saying, “Save the drama for your mama,” or “Excuses are like butts, everyone’s got one.”

No comments:

Post a Comment