Friday, September 24, 2010

I Need Your Help

I need your help. Those are not words children often hear adults say to them, but I said those exact words to my students this morning. I think many of the things I say just go in one ear and out the other, but they didn't know what to do with this one.

I told them I needed their help, because I wasn't very good at one part of my job. They just stared at me or looked down. I told them how I thought the no talking plan we agreed to was fantastic, and I love buying trinkets for our red box (which once held pastries from Italy). But I'm not good at the taking away the paper pencil that determines if you earned a trinket. And it didn't feel fair to me for the students who weren't developing self control to receive the same reward as those who are working hard to find self control. They agreed it doesn't feel right.

They just looked at me. I said, "No. Seriously. I really need your help. I'm no good at this." Finally someone suggested that instead of taking away the pencil, I could give them out. Hmmm. That feels so much better to me.

We voted.

Not everyone agreed it was good. And then there was a moment when I asked what didn't feel good, and one child said that he only talked when someone talked to him. And without missing a beat another child said, "But that is the self control part that's hard for everyone." Wow! I don't know if that moment was lost on the other child, but it wasn't lost on me.

What comes out when people are honest with other people--regardless of age or level of authority or income or education. It was incredible! And we have come to an agreement that everyone can feel good about. I asked for help, and I received it from 9 and 10 year olds. That feels respectful and honest and real and quite educational.

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