I had the wonderful opportunity to teach the same group of third graders for the fifth time today. I knew they would all be glad to see me just as I was glad to see them. Subbing is a lot easier when you get a chance to know the children in the classroom. I was definitely looking forward to the day.
It wasn’t a day without it’s challenges. For the most part, the children were well behaved once I got them taking the tests they had to do. But at one point, one of the little boys pencil bag came up missing and a few of the children were saying it was T. T is one of the more rambunctious children in the class. She is full of energy and always on the edge of trouble with one or more of the boys. So it would not be surprising if she took the bag and hid it from the boy. This was one of those times that I wanted outside help and got it from one of the other teachers. The teacher grilled T, and made her apologize. The problem was, I wasn’t sure T was guilty. But she did settle down, only because she laid her head on the table and started crying quietly.
All the rest of the students went back to work and after a few moments I went over to T and told her that she needed to move on and get her work done. She didn’t say anything. I let her sit for a few more moments and finally told her to write down what was bothering her so much. After a few minutes, she brought be a note. It said:
“I’m upset because N always teases me. N always laughs at me. No one really likes me and I think it is because I’m black. I don’t have any friends and they are always telling on me.”
She was really hurting and I was glad she wrote it all down. I wrote her back and tried to encourage her:
“T, I don’t know why the children don’t like you, but I do know it is not because you are black. You are a beautiful and smart young girl and no one can ever take that from you. They may not like you because you do get out of hand. I know you can do better. As for N not liking you, there is nothing you can do about that. Truth is, most people only have a few good friends. So why don’t you figure out who you like and start being nice to them. Then you will find a true friend. Be nice to as many people as you can, even when they are mean to you. Then you will have a lot of friends.”
I think she listened. I asked if she like H, and she said she did, but that H didn’t like her. I told her to try being nice to H and see if it didn’t change. On the way back from lunch, T was playing with H’s hair the way little girls play with each others hair and H seemed to be liking it. Hopefully, they will become friends and T won’t feel so lonely in the class.