As C.S. Lewis would say, I was “surprized by joy” to catch a glimpse of the Holy Spirit working…
Last week, one of my students was more than a minute or two tardy to class after lunch. So, I looked down the empty hallway from my classroom door and saw my student, a sophomore, on the receiving end of what appeared to be a berating from another student. I could tell from her body language that she was not upset, but she was definitely not happy. She knew she was tardy, but could not seem to extricate herself from the situation. She turned and saw me at the end of the hallway. I quietly motioned to her with my finger to come to class. With a sense of relief, I could see her tell her friend that she had to go to class now that a teacher was standing there and begin to trodden down the hallway to class.
Sensing her mood, I wrote the following on a post-it note and handed it to her while her and the rest of the class finished the bell work.
Only you can choose to be happy or sad.
No one else can make that choice.
Are you going to let someone else choose it for you?
I am not exactly sure where I got those words. (They sound like something Anthony de Mello would write.) They just came to me and seemed appropriate for the moment.
After a couple of minutes, she was her old self again, smiling and engaging in the class discussion. She later thanked me.
Every Monday, I put a new quote on the chalk board. (See my collection of quotes for examples) Later within the same class period, the student suggested that I put those words I gave her as the next quote. So, at the spur of the moment, on a Thursday, out of my normal routine, I changed the quote.
In another class, I have this one particular upperclassman. Sharp student, all honor classes. Stuco president, NHS, cheerleader, people person, full of energy, take charge, get-the-job-done kind of person. Over the past month or so, she has started being tardy to first hour on a regular basis. She has also quietly withdrawn from things. She only enrolled in one honor class for her senior year. She did not run for Stuco again. She did not re-tryout for cheerleading either. Her normal fastidious attention to assignments has dwindled. She has tried to mask it with humor and a cheery exterior, but something is wrong. Something is different. The change has been subtle, but noticeable. Rumor has it that she took the breakup hard over a guy that she really liked. Maybe there was more to the relationship? Maybe it’s something else? We’re keeping an eye out for her.
Yesterday morning, this one particular upperclassman came into my classroom to sit down her book bag before first hour started. She was the first one there. She pointed toward the the board and said she had thought about that quote all weekend. It really helped her through some things. Then she smiled and walked back out into the hallway to greet a friend.
Maybe she’s beginning to turn a corner?