The 2nd grade class came into my room bearing a new student--Keyden--and before I could even get to him to shake his hand, several of his new classmates were shouting out about how bad he is and what he has done to them over the past two days. I'm totally ignoring them trying to get past. I finally reached him and asked for a handshake:
MR. BOWERS: Hey, I'm Mr. Bowers...come on in, give me a good handshake. (He doesn't squeeze at all.) Alright, now squeeze. (Gives a little squeeze.) Come on, now, you don't want me to think you're a weak little kid, you want to tell me that you're a strong CHILD. (now he really squeezes and we have exchanged an awesome handshake.) What's your name?
We all come in and sit down, his classmates are now raising their hands, again, trying to tell me how bad he is. I am still ignoring what they are saying. Keyden is just sitting there ignoring them as well, we keep talking:
MR. BOWERS: What school did you come from?
KEYDEN: Piney Point.
MR. BOWERS: Do they have a Drama Class at your old school?
MR. BOWERS: Well, here we have Drama, Music, Art, Computer, Science, Library, P.E. and Math Lab. Can you believe it! You're gonna love it here.
The kids are still trying desperately to get my attention.
MR. BOWERS: Aren't they bothering you? Have you ever been bothered? You know, like do you have a little brother that bothers you or anything like that?
KEYDEN: My little brother died.
Now all of the kids are, of course, silent.
MR. BOWERS: I am so sorry. Y'all, aren't you sorry that happened to Keyden?
The kids all offer their own apologies, then we quietly move on with the lesson. Keyden participated and was a really nice kid. At the end of class, I asked him if he wanted the class to give him a new start, he did. I asked for it and they all graciously agreed. I talked to his teacher and he said that he has been fine for him and in fact thought the rest of the class had been a little rough on Keyden.
They come to Music next door tomorrow and I can't wait to see how it's going. Those crazy 2nd graders--they are right in a stage of their lives that allow them to be really, really sweet to each other and really, really mean.