Oh what I go through some days at school. Just yesterday morning a belligerent little boy was tipping precariously in his seat and causing quite a commotion in our little resource class (the class designed to pull students out of their regular classroom to give them special help). I thought maybe his actions had something to do with me being the substitute, that usual testing behavior I'm daily subjected to. The para-educator I was working with assured me that was not the case.
This little boy was on the verge of hurting himself and maybe someone else. I'm sure he wanted to claim he was being funny. I asked him to sit correctly in his chair several times. He kept at it in spite of my instruction. So on the umpteenth verge of catastrophe, I grabbed him and maneuvered him to a different seat that wasn't so easy to tip. What I thought was a strategic move to safety for him and for others was then proclaimed as an act of violence, "You're abusing me! You're abusing me!" he shouted. He wanted to make it perfectly clear that it was my behavior that was inappropriate not his.
The next day I had him again and I made it perfectly clear to the entire little class of six that they needed to sit correctly in their chairs because they or someone else could easily get hurt. We got through the reading segment safely and without any screaming of abuse. But later when I had four students for math he was back. This time I was going around the table giving individual help, but he treated me like a bugaboo moving in for the kill. He rebuffed me. He didn't want me near him and the other students weren't cooperating either. Two adults, four fourth graders and they weren't letting us make any headway with any of them. The para-educator sent them all back to class. They obviously needed help, but they weren't going to let anyone help them today.
I was beside myself, it all seemed very strange. I wanted to help and they wouldn't let me. The para-educator attributed it to our coming spring break. Of course, not every child responded that way during the day. In fact, I even had some "golden moments" when I knowingly see and feel I've been an influence for good. But still, I was feeling afflicted by the negative.
As I was leaving class, I saw two boys on the playground in matching "Transformer" t-shirts. I made a point of commenting about them. You could tell the shirts were brand new and I asked them if they were twins. I guess it was possible, but they certainly didn't look alike. They were very pleased at my question. They claimed to be twins, but they were obviously the best of friends displaying their unity. Suddenly another little boy, not wanting to be overlooked for attention, quickly jumped into the conversation, "You want to see me hit the ball really high?" I did, and he hit it amazingly high up against the handball court. I stated my praises as I walked on waving good-bye to their smiling faces as I headed toward the office.
They were so delighted that I had talked with them, but what they didn't know was how discouraged I was by the earlier fiasco in class. They thought I was so nice, but what they didn't know was that I desperately needed someone to be nice to me. While talking about t-shirts, twins, and hitting balls high, their sunny smiles lifted me. Undoubtedly, they didn't know how I found great comfort in their sincere and happy kindness.