Archive for August, 2013
I found this story on the internet one day, about 9 months ago, and posted it to the Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute’s Facebook page. It has been our most popular post ever, striking a chord with so many adults who have known children who needed “a special someone.” Here it is for you to read, relate, enjoy, and share:
As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.
It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.
Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners… he is a joy to be around..”
His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”
His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”
Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper That he got from a grocery bag Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.” After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.
On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets..”
A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling* her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.
The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.
Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.
They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for* believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”
Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”
A middle school Special Education teacher from Wisconsin recently reviewed my book, How to Be Angry, on her blog, Half-Past Kissin’ Time and on Amazon. She has some great insights about using the book with tweens and teens. Please check her review out here:
Through the wonders of social media, I have met up with some fascinating people doing great work with kids. Recently, I connected with Heather Thomas at The Helpful Counselor, who was nice enough to share my post about 4 Things Your Tween Needs to Know to Stay Strong in the Face of Bullying. I hate to bounce you from one site to the next, but please check out my post over on her site, then check out all of the other great things she has to offer!
As an author and educator on bullying, I have a keen sense about the urgency of my message but also a healthy awareness that as people sit down to attend one of my trainings, they may begin as “prisoners.” In other words, some boss or supervisor somewhere assigned the person to attend, though what they’d really rather be doing is preparing their classroom, working on lesson plans, collaborating with other teachers, or, well, anything but listening to another talking head droning on and on about an educator’s obligation to stop bullying. Yes, the bullying that was once never talked about has now have become so pervasive (and too often finger-wagging) that us anti-bullying messengers have run the risk of sounding like the teachers in the Charlie Brown cartoons.
My goal is always to turn the prisoners into opportunity-seekers: to help educator’s understand that they are in the rare position to “be that one person” in a child’s life who makes the child feel heard, understood, valued, defended, and strong. Likewise, teachers can reach out to kids who bully, understand the pain behind their aggressive behavior, and teach those students better way to behave, more constructive ways to exert power and control in their lives. As Haim Ginnot once said, teachers really are THE decisive element in the classroom.
This article, featured online in Science Daily, is a great tool for helping teachers, parents, and all adults understand the long term impact of bullying and realize that stopping bullying is not just one more item on the To Do list, but rather a critical opportunity to make all of the difference in a child’s long term well-being:
Best wishes for a fantastic year full of learning, growing, and the sound of children’s laughter to all of the teachers, administrators and students starting school today!
Is there a person in your life who procrastinates, carries out tasks in intentionally inefficient ways, is quietly manipulative, creates minor but chronic irritation in others, and makes you feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster? If so, you may be working or living with a PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE person.
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Great article in Education Week about the moral obligation of educators–and all adults–to remain connected with kids and take decisive action to prioritize the dignity and safety of young people.
“…schools have a responsibility not only to help students learn, but also to keep them safe, physically and emotionally, while they are in our care. If we are not addressing the culture of bullying and public shaming, if we are not doing everything we can to teach young people how to treat each other kindly and civilly, if we are ignoring social and emotional crises unfolding before our eyes, we are failing Rehtaeh and thousands like her.”
Classroom teachers have everything to do with stopping bullying. There. I said it. I often hesitate to make this assertion so plainly when speaking to educators, fearing my next move will have to be fending off rotten tomatoes lobbed at my head by teachers who won’t stand for having yet another responsibility heaped onto their already-overflowing plates.
If the spoiled fruit ever were to be thrown my way, I would understand the sentiment, but the fact that they never are is a true testament to the tremendous job that most classroom teachers willingly take on every day of the school year. The teachers who are making a difference in the movement to stop bullying are engaged role models of kindness and expert masters of diplomacy. They are true champions of the underdog and astute shapers of peer culture. They are not afraid to be direct and to confront bullying behavior whenever they see it. These teachers are improving the lives of young people each and every day and demonstrating that time spent on bullying prevention is time saved on conflict, alienation, academic struggles, and victimization. What follows are four strategies for stopping bullying that effective teachers share in common:
Click here to read my article on the HuffingtonPost that explains four strategies effective teachers use to stop bullying in their classrooms and schools: