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What a difference this year! By taking this approach my relationship with the students is incredibly wonderful. I have always had a good connection with MOST of my students, but there were always a few who just hated me. Those were the kids who were disruptive. This year, it’s different. The kids know I am about helping them, not about who’s right or wrong, not about who said so, etc. Being new to this, I may not do it right all the time, but the kids get my sincerity.

I had to take a medical leave and was only able to tell the kids on my last day (due to school being canceled). Many students voiced concern, especially because they didn’t know it was going to happen, but one girl in particular represents how this discipline approach has helped me with my relationships with students.

Go back a few weeks. It was only the second week of school and two girls were caught by the assistant principal copying homework from my class. When they came to class, I quietly gave them a self-reflection sheet. Since they are in different periods, I was able to speak privately with each at the end of the hour. In the past I would have done the stereotypical finger wagging lecture about trust, the basic trying to say, “I care about you,” but really just “humiliating you” type thing.

What I did this year was to assure her that I still liked her, that I knew she knew she made a mistake, that I wanted to help her figure out other options she had, and I wanted to help her move up in maturity on the hierarchy. This made ME feel great. Those things I said were always true, I have always felt that way, but now I have some tools to actually make it happen. I felt caring and soft, not shaming and hard.

Ok, now back to telling the kids I was leaving and that day would be the last day. Guess who secretly snuck around the room with an impromptu “We’ll Miss You” card and got everyone to sign it? You guessed it, the girl. She presented it to me at the end of the hour and gave me a hug. Several other students wanted hugs, too.

What can I say!


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