Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hello and a Smile...

A young boy at my school recently had a rough week. This student was not the type of student who got into trouble a lot, but during this one week he was involved in three separate altercations. To add to his frustration, he came out on the short end of each altercation.

After each altercation, he ended up in my office. Not always in tears. After the first altercation, I talked; after the second altercation, we talked; and, after the third altercation, he talked.
We did our best to resolve any outstanding issues that remained between him and the other students involved.

Over the next few days, I made a point of checking in on him. On one such occasion I stopped into his classroom when I noticed him struggling with some classwork. He was doing a “Words Their Way” activity and was just sitting there staring at the little bits of paper on his desk. Each bit of paper had a single word written on it and his task was to sort them.

I knelt down beside his desk and asked him how he was feeling. We talked a bit, he said he was having a good day that day. I then asked him about his task at hand and he explained it to me as though he were an expert. He knew exactly what to do...yet...he just stared at the bits of paper unable or unwilling to begin. I asked him to show me how the activity works. He obliged and showed me how to sort a few words. Then it was my turn...I sorted a few words. We continued this way until the task was done. He smiled as I left.

The next day, as I was dismissing a Kindergarten class I was supervising, he walked by the door. He stopped, smiled and said, “Hello”. That was it...however...he communicated so much more. It was as though we had made a connection.

Since that moment I’m happy to report that there have been no further altercations. He still stares at his “Words Their Way” assignments, but now regularly comes down to the office for assistance from me. 

There are SO many demands on our time every minute of every day that it is easy to forget how much power and influence we have. This experience served as an important reminder to me the important role “relationship” and “connection” play in the lives of our students.


  1. Great story, Al! It's these moments that remind us why we entered this field. It's always about relationships. It's the sandbox manifesto all over again (angela maiers) - recognizing that when someone knows they matter, the whole world changes.
    Have a great day.


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