I would like to nominate MM for MI Rockstar because of the maturity and empathy she demonstrated while mediating a conflict between peers. She has grown tremendously since the beginning of the school year in her ability to see others’ points of view and look for the best in those around her. This maturity can also be seen in her improved punctuality and participation in class. M is a very caring young lady and I feel lucky to have had her in my class this semester.
MM was actually one of my least favorite students at the beginning of the year: loud, blunt, obnoxious, and utterly unpredictable. If I was lucky, she ignored me completely; if I was unlucky, she’d come in looking and acting like someone peed in her Cheerios. I never knew who was going to walk in the door. But somehow over the course over the quarter our class gelled as a group, and I think when she realized that I wasn’t letting her go she felt more secure.
I remember one time she and her counterpart asked if I would send them to ISIP because they didn’t feel like working and wanted to sleep. That day I’d actually scheduled some mental downtime for the kids after a few grueling weeks, so their request seemed a little weird to me. I told them no, because I didn’t want to put another in-school suspension on their records for such a trivial reason. MM threatened to walk out, and I knew she was perfectly capable of doing so, but I quietly told her that she was free to go but that I wanted her to stay. Some more blustering followed, but both girls ended up staying.
Around Christmas time, MM saw some of the cards I’d made with my SEMINAR students and asked if I would make one for her boyfriend, who is currently incarcerated. By now I’ve drawn at least half a dozen cards and posters for this kid, and each one has elicited [admittedly-less-than-endearing] screeches of delight from my darling M (and a boatload of similar requests from her comrades-in-Uggs). But I did it because she revealed her softer side by asking, and I wanted to see more of that.
On Tuesday this week, MW, who is usually very quiet, confronted MM at the beginning of class and stepped out into the hall to talk with her. The gist of the conflict was that MW frequently wore a “look” when she saw the antics of MM & Co., which MW explained as a look of pity for the way the other girls acted sillier than they really were. Not the best way to phrase it, but I jumped in before MM could explode and explained that MW was actually upset because she cared about them (which might have been stretching the truth, but forgive me). MM bristled a little but said she understood. I asked her to help me mediate the conversation between MW and the other girls. Apparently there had been words exchanged when I was out on Friday, again over the perception that MW thought herself superior, but MM actually did a great job keeping the peace. She mostly repeated what I had said, but it seemed like she really bought it. I complimented her for her maturity later and told her I would be nominating her for our school’s monthly Rock Star award.
I admit that it’s very, very, labor-intensive to cultivate this kind of relationship with a student. And even if she follows through on various vows to visit my class and have me as her bridesmaid, eventually she will be gone. Is it naive to hope that if I have taught her nothing about science (which is altogether possible), but I have taught her something lasting about being a better person, that that is enough? If so, let me have my naivete, and hang your OGT scores.