Before I Forget: Restorative Practices Anecdote

[Warning: this post contains profanity]

So some time in early May, a girl created a Kik account for me. Kik is basically an instant messaging app that kids have on their phones.  Many kids don’t have text so they use kik.  News spread but lots of kids were reluctant to add a teacher. Totally uncool, I understand.

Also, I’m a bit apprehensive about getting too accessible and friendly online because I don’t want to ever get caught up in some scandal AND I don’t want kids to think that it’s okay for their teachers to be all up in their social media biz (because there’s always that one creepy teacher that we all read about in the news…).

So, my rule of thumb was kids could add me, but if it wasn’t related to homework, I wouldn’t answer.

The other night I was invited into a group chat and well, you can look below.

The group is called “FBGM”, and being unfamiliar with how Kik works, I just assumed it was someone’s username.

Screenshot_2015-06-08-20-02-53

And wow, that sucked because this was a group of boys that I think highly about. I quickly took a screenshot and removed myself from the group mainly because I didn’t want them to incriminate themselves further (although in retrospect, I should’ve stayed on just in case they denied this happened).

I then emailed some leadership about what to do.  As I emailed, I felt embarrassed because I’d been told offhandedly by someone in that email group that “Kik causes drama”, and I’d breezily responded with, “Oh, it’s just for homework.”  I mentally berated myself for opening myself up to this because the kids probably say these kinds of things all the time but I just had to have witnessed it.

I know the blame is misplaced, but I just wished I hadn’t seen him make a bad decision.  I called his home right away and said that I’d like a conversation the next day with a parent.

Well, the end of the year is happening and there aren’t many times for breaks.  He showed up for class, and I was surprised because I thought he was going to be pulled until we have a conversation. I tried to keep things normal because honestly, I didn’t actually care that much.   I’m pretty sure kids say things like this to look cool and if the kid actually thought it was me, he wouldn’t have said it.

Finally at lunch, he, an administrator, and I had a conversation.  This is what I love.  Because the kid is used to this sort of protocol, he was able to open up right away.  He expressed his guilt, his sorriness, and how he just “didn’t know it was me.”  I and the principal sort of pressed upon him the fact that the hurt comes from the words themselves too and the principal asked him “How do you think it makes Ms. Kim feel?”

He responded with, “She probably lost respect for me and doesn’t trust me anymore.  She’s probably hurt because it was a bad thing to say, and I feel bad too. I know I messed up and I don’t know if she can respect me anymore.”

The principal then said, “Why don’t you ask her?”

and he said, “I don’t want to ask her. I don’t want to know.”  Then there was some silence, and she discussed ways to restore our relationship.  She then left us to continue to talk it out.

“Ms. Kim, I just knew I messed up. I woke up at like 2, and I couldn’t sleep, because I was sorry, and I knew I messed up.”

I stopped myself from quickly saying, “Oh don’t worry, it was a mistake.” and instead I allowed myself to say that I had been hurt.  I don’t actually know how hurt I was, because I think as a middle school teacher, you just have to grow thicker skin.  You can’t let things like this hurt you because not every kid will respond like this kid was.  So, it wasn’t until I said, “You know, I try really hard with you guys, and I felt like you and I had a good relationship,” that I sniffled a bit.  I bet I could’ve held that back.. but ya know, sometimes a kid has to see that he can inflict pain.

We agreed that he would help me pack after school, and today I was a little irked because I had to go remind him rather than he coming up to my room right away.

But I think things are okay because some kids later came into ask why he was here, “For service” and one guy began laughing saying, “dude, he was all..” and was about to share the story, but my kid hushed him quietly and kept doing his piece.

And that helped pull things together for me.

Does that make sense?

Anyway, things suck, but things always pull up. I want to keep loving them as much as I can.  I’m going to be a mess tomorrow.

It was only one year with my ASCEND kids versus the two with the kids from OCA.  Yet I feel like we just had more … heartstring action. I’m thankful for an environment that lets me connect in healthy, whole relationships.  If you don’t have this at your school, I don’t know how you can continue to teach (unless kids are docile and there’s a lot of moolah!).

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