"Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature." ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I am a middle school counselor.  That is right.  I work with a very challenging age group and I love it!  I also get to teach an advisory class each day, which is a class of 27 students.  Not just any 27 students.  My class is quite the mix of kids.  I have a rough and rowdy group of about 8 boys who are the picture of insensitivity.  They don't mean to be.  I honestly think they just don't think about it.  I have a group of "cliquey" girls, 2 self-proclaimed loners, some very high-achieving academic types, and then many in between.   Even though there is a quite a variety of kids, they are all amazing in their own way.

All year I have been wanting to show them this youtube video.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iSlok6muY0   However, I have been putting it off for several reasons.  Number one, I can't seem to watch it without crying.  And something about crying in front of 27 of my students does not appeal to me.  I picture me wiping away tears as they look at me with that "whatever" attitude that only middle schoolers can do.  And although in reality I know that wouldn't be their response, I still prefer not to cry in the classroom.  The other reason that I had put it off is that I wanted it to be the perfect lesson.  I wanted to combine it with great discussion and activities. 

Each month we have different themes.  January's theme was "thoughtful / respectful".  I decided that it would be the perfect month to introduce this video and lesson around the "R" word.  The "R" word is used often at this age, and I truly believe it is because they are not aware of the negative impact it has.  Well, yesterday was the last day of the month and I had finished my "perfect" lesson plan and decided to do it!

I was a teacher for 6 years before becoming a counselor, so I have been in front of kids for the past 12 years.  I love being with kids in the classroom and I never get nervous teaching a lesson.  Not the case yesterday.  I had the jitters.  I was excited and nervous.  How would they react?  How would I react if they didn't react like I wanted them to?  What if they reacted badly to my reaction of their non-reaction?!?!?

I began my pre-video discussion with some reflection questions for them.  Already one of my "wild boys" stifled a laugh into his sleeve.  I snapped.  This is not the day to mess with me.  I explained to him very loudly and with that teacher scowl on my face that this topic is very serious.  If he could not handle it, I invited him to go spend the class in the office with the vice-principal.  Now they know I am serious, because I don't send kids out of my classroom.  I am pretty sure there was smoke coming out of my ears. 

We had a good discussion.  At the end of the discussion I shared with the class that this topic is very personal to me because I have a son with cerebral palsy.  I put a picture of my sweet little man up one the screen and asked them if they would call him the "R" word.

No response.  I started the video.  Now I am thinking, where do I stand.  Should I go to the back of the room so they can't see the tears in my eyes?  Should I step out into the hall?  No.  I stayed right where I was in the front and to the side and watched the video as I silently prayed not to cry. 

The video was done.  I turned off the computer and there we sat, still in the dark, In.  Complete.  Silence.    That's right, my class who is NEVER quiet - was silent.  I finally asked someone to turn the lights on.  There were a few girls who had tears on their cheeks. 

In my "perfect lesson" I had great follow-up discussion questions and an activity.  Not needed.  I asked for thoughts or comments instead.  It was still quiet.  I just let us sit in this silence for a while.  Then before the end of the period I shared with them some ideas about how we can end the use of the "R" word.  I also shared with them some great ideas that I had gotten from other moms with children with cp on how to treat their kids. 

Our theme for February is "Diversity" so you can bet that I will be incorporating people who are differently-abled.  I am sure that I will toil over making a "perfect" lesson again.  However, I have come to realize that less is sometimes more on these types of days.  There is nothing more powerful than sitting with a group of young teenagers...in silence.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could have been there. Thank you for sharing this amazing story. I am glad you decided to go through with it.


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