Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Accent (02/21/13)
TITLE: My Not-So-Foreign Accent
By Verna Cole Mitchell
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At times it was very difficult to demonstrate kindness, like when Jason stuck a pencil in the back of the head of the girl in front of him . . . Alicia came ten minutes late to class, slammed the door behind her, and fell down in front while I had an observer in the classroom to rate my teaching . . . Terry said that nobody had to listen to me or do their assignments ‘cause I wasn’t the boss of them . . . ad-infinitum.
When a student asked me one day why I did not yell at them like some of their other teachers did, I told him that it was my goal to be kind. I thought I might have been succeeding pretty well until another student offered, “But you want to watch out when she gets real quiet.”
And another added, “I’d rather she’d yell at me than give me ‘that look.’” Well, maybe I needed to work on that “being kind” business just a little more!
Sometimes students tried to take advantage of my tender spirit. Because so many students had “borrowed” lunch money, it became necessary to announce that this “teacher bank” had gone out of business due to bad loans. The next day at lunchtime, Billy just sat at his desk, instead of going to lunch. When I asked him why he wasn’t leaving, he said, “I don’t have any lunch money, so I guess I’ll just go to the cafeteria and smell the food.” Maybe just one more loan wouldn’t hurt!
Not only did I want to be kind, but I also tried to encourage my eighth graders to demonstrate kindness to each other. I put up posters that said “BE KIND” and gave many verbal reminders. Sometimes when a couple of students were having a disagreement (understatement here), and I would try to mitigate the situation, they would say, “We know, Mrs. Matthews—Be kind,” followed by long sighs.
Because of God’s never-changing grace that He has graciously given to me, my desire has been to show compassion to others in all the circumstances of my life, especially in my own home. My family can tell you that I have not always been successful, but they might say they have always found me to be trying (maybe sometimes very trying). Still, I can state firmly, “With God’s help, my accent is on kindness.”
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