Saturday, February 4, 2012

Goody Two Shoes


       Two 7th graders were suspended this week for fighting.   They are both "good" kids.  Rarely have I seen them in the office for discipline issues and they both maintain 3.0 or above gpa's.  Apparently one, in a fit of bravado,  told the other he could beat him in a fight and the gauntlet was thrown.  Knowing that fighting on campus would be the ticket to suspension and, for at least one of the boys, something that would upset his parents, these two guys decided to take the fight off campus.  


      Although no one officially sold tickets for the fight, pretty much half the 7th and 8th graders showed up for the entertainment.  Quite a crowd of hormone driven 12 and 13 year olds was mobbing on a trail just outside the school grounds promptly at 3:05..  What they failed to realize is that, legally, the time between home and school is the school's  responsibility so fighting ten yards off campus was the same as fighting on campus.  The PE teacher called the office the minute she saw the crowd.  I got on the PA system and immediately called every male teacher by name, asking them to go out to the field.  Purpose?  To let kids know supervision was on the way.  Males?  Yes, female teachers would go too but, in a fight, 12 year old boys more readily respond to the big male figure (even if he's 60 years old....).  


     In the end, Brett*  clearly came out the winner (after immediately knocking Justin* to the ground and then taking off on foot through the adjacent neighborhood).  Justin took the walk of shame to the office.  Of course, Brett got his comeuppance when he showed up at school the next morning (really?) but Justin had to face the music right then.  Dad responded at once and 20 minutes later, Justin was walking out of the office with a blend of defiance, confusion, embarrassment, and just plain defeat.  


       Justin is new to our school this year.  He is a quirky, creative, funny, guy who has that "old soul" feeling and who struggled to fit in at his previous school.  From the first day, I connected with Justin.  He has some health issues and I worked with him on how to explain his situation to teachers. He was upfront with me from the beginning about the bully issues at the previous school and I checked in with him regularly in the fall.   Our school is bigger and more diversified than his previous school.  He found acceptance by our kids in ways he that was never accepted before.  He flourished.  


     So when Justin was suspended, I wanted to give him some feedback.  Actually, I needed him to know a few things.  I sent him the following email:


Hi Justin, 
It's JT at BHS. 
         I wanted to check in with you just to see how you were doing.  I really enjoy having you at BH.  I find you to be an interesting, smart, and creative guy who also has a delightful sense of humor.  Back a few weeks ago (maybe in December?) , we talked one day at lunchtime and you wanted me to know you were not a "goody two shoes".  There was something about that comment that stayed with me. I guess I wondered if you assumed that I considered you a "goody two shoes".  Perhaps a definition is in order.  For me, that term means someone who somehow thinks they are better than everyone else.  They believe they have a market on always doing the right thing.  A "goody two shoes" is the kid who always has his/her hand up with answer, always is sitting prim and proper, always is focused on the impression they might be making on the authority figure ( whether that is a teacher, a boss, a cop, whatever)  -- BINGO  -- that's it - they care only about impressing.  

        Okay, now with my definition aside, I will say that you are not , in my mind, a goody two shoes.  I think you mostly do the right thing b/c that's the kind of person you are.  You come from a family where doing the right thing matters (however YOU see the right thing).  I think that , despite this fight incident, you are still a person intent on being kind, respectful, and honest.  I have been on the planet long enough to know that all people change.  I know that younger people are still determining who they are (frankly, older people too).  I know that that process means that you try on different ways of being to see if they fit and if you like them (much like you try on shoes to see if the fit and style are yours).  And one style might work for a while or shoes will fit for a while but then you will outgrow them and that is the process of becoming who you are.  

        All this is to say, again, I think you are a wonderful addition to our campus.  I like your spirit and your ability to accept everyone.   I am sure you have looked at your behavior the other day and likely talked to your parents and/or grandpa about the decisions you made that day.  In the big huge scheme of things, this is not going to be a big deal.....but it is a big deal right now.  How you see yourself now and how other kids see you might change and you can make that into a positive.  If you want to look at anything that might be helpful for you here at BHS, you know my door is always open.  Glad to have you here and I'll see you next week --


JT



What do you think?  Will it make a difference to Justin?


*  Of course, these are not their real names.








8 comments:

  1. On the inside, it will unquestionably have a positive impact. Whether or not that translates to an external impact probably depends on gold old P.P. Peer pressure probably created the need for the fight in the first place. Good show on the email, for it will always have a long-term positive effect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least he will know that I had an opinion of him.

      Delete
  2. Love the email. Hope it sticks with him long enough to sink in - I suspect it might.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think he will think about it later, maybe...

      Delete
  3. There's something I say when passing thoughts like this along to guys in the halfway house: "Maybe you aren't in the right space to hear this right now, but maybe some day, it will come back to you when you need it and are more ready for it." You never know how or when or even if your words will help, but the effort is so very important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow! That is a great way to put it - I'll have to remember that.

      Delete
  4. I agree. So many kids don't hear positive feedback of any kind. He'll file this away in his memory. Just that you noticed him and made him feel unique and welcomed is huge.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I actually want to do that for all our kids - Kids need to be seen. They need to know someone cares about them.

    ReplyDelete