Dress Code Policy
A kind word turns away wrath.
Before the beginning of each school year, I see a roster of student names prior to associating faces. I look at the names and, by instinct, am able to identify students who will be difficult. Over the years I have been able to affirm my first thoughts within the first week of class. Although I was trained and provided techniques to use when difficulties arise, I sometimes become frustrated and my training goes by the wayside. This week I made a commitment to do it right the first time every time.
The bell rings for first period. Students begin to enter the room. After the tardy bell rings and we are well into the lesson, stragglers begin to enter the room. They look angry and unapproachable. They are “dress code”, wearing too short shorts, revealing their navels, and listening to IPods. I make sure they sign the tardy log and continue class activities.
A male student came in and indicated that he had just enrolled. He sat down, took a drink of PowerAde and wore earphones. In a soft informative voice I told him he had to put his headphones away and that he could only drink plain water in class. He didn’t seem to appreciate it but he complied with my request. The next day I noticed that he had a strong offensive odor. He told the class that he was from another city and was living alone on transitional assistance. This pulled at my heartstrings. Before the end of class I called him to my office, told him I would help in any way I could and gave him information on other assistance for which he might be eligible. Needless to say, I am now his favorite teacher.
A young lady came 30 minutes late and was “super dress code.” She did not participate in class but rather applied makeup to her face for about 10 minutes. I did not get sarcastic when she came late or when she sat slumped with her legs crossed and lips stuck out or when she started plying on the makeup. This was a major victory for me. When I called the young lady into my office she strutted in and assumed a defensive posture with her arms folded. I caringly asked her if she was ok. She softened immediately and gave me an explanation. The explanation didn’t make sense but we ended on a friendly note.
I am encouraged.
I have had other victories over the past five days. Classes are going swimmingly well. It is important to remember that kids come to school with a lot of home baggage and I cannot take bad attitudes personally. There are 170 days left in the school year. I plan to follow through with a cool head and kind words.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1
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