Not letting them down

Last year I let one group of kids get to me so much that I let them down.  There were bullies, eye-rollers and several nice co-operative children, and I let them all down.  I didn’t stop the bullies, the eye-rollers, the bad attitudes.  I would try for a while and then let it go.  I’d call a parent or two, but never really decided that teaching them how to act was more important than teaching them French.

Well, this year the groups have been scrambled, the most obvious mean-girl moved, and I get a second chance.  The smallest rude look, rude comment got squashed.  There were several quiet discussions about being polite to everyone.  I’ve worked on personalizing, but it’s an uphill battle with some of the quiet kids from the difficult class.  “What do you want, Betty Sue?” Shrug. “Do you want an iTouch?” Shrug. “A sports car?” Shrug.  “A lot of money?” Shrug. “Chocolate?” Shrug. Sometimes a quiet “I guess.”  Arrgh.

But Friday we had a breakthrough.  With the difficult class I’d stopped playing wild games and defaulted to Bingo.  They sit quiet, listen to French, get candy, no chance for eye-rolling or making fun of someone for taking a chance.  No chance for anyone to be labelled a pencil-head or a kiss-up.  This year I gave them a choice, Bingo or Bonk.  They picked Bonk!  So the class of quiet girls who don’t ever want anything or express opinions or react sat in a circle and whacked each other’s desks with a rolled up newspaper.  They giggled.  They made mistakes and laughed at themselves.  The children without facial expressions smiled.  A month of being consistent, and don’t letting anyone be mean finally worked.

I’m never giving up on a group again.  I won’t let them down.

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