Do You Want to Hear A Story? ~ It's National Tell A Story Day
The story you're about to read is true.
What should one do for National Tell A Story Day? Well, of course, tell a story. So that's what I'm about to share with you.
It wasn't a coincidence that I happened to choose National Tell A Story Day to debut my first details of my classroom to this network. The sort of "so called tales" I have to tell aren't the regular stories that you hear from the public classroom. Sure some of them may be, but for most of my teaching career I've dealt with what the system calls, "ED kids" or "Emotionally Disturbed" children.
To celebrate National Tell A Story Day, I would like to "tell" a snippet from a book I wrote about 15 years ago on perception. We'll pick up in a section of the book in chapter 6 that I entitled, "A New Attitude."
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National Tell A Story Day
National Tell A Story Day is celebrated on April 27th in the United States, but six months later on October 27th in England and Scotland. So you can choose the date on which you wish to explore this holiday for yourself.
What is National Tell A Story Day? It’s a day that rejoices in the telling of all kinds of stories whether it is fact or fiction, long or short.
Whether it is funny or sad, you can read a story to someone or make one up of your own. The main thing is to share a story that you find interesting and worth telling.
Photo google images by postconsumers.com
The story you're about to read is true.
The names have been changed or left out to protect the innocent.
"Would you like to hear a story?"
is a phrase that my students have heard for years. Like most kids, my students would want to hear a story right before getting their homework assignment or when they wanted to get off a topic they really didn't like. Who could blame them, we did the same thing, right?
Sometimes I indulged them and would share stories from my family, activities and travels. Since they were my "kids", over the years they came to know quite a bit about me. You could say my life was an open book to them, and so now I share a part of that book with you.
Image Photobucket by pamelalillianisley
A New Attitude
Part 1 ~ Mixin' it up
In most of my years teaching, I was usually the lightest skinned person in the classroom. As a matter of fact, I was the only white, female teacher and there was only a five percent white population in the school.
The school had a wide range of mixed cultures. I like that because it made history class a lot more fun for me. Color and race were never a factor in my life, even though I lived a somewhat sheltered life from most, in a small town.
We didn't have many children in my area or even in my younger classes, so we all played well with one another all through grammar school. High school brought tons of new kids, but we still hung out together. These things didn't matter to me, so anyone having a problem with someone who was not their own race really baffled me.
I was naive to the world, but not stupid or timid. Foul language, lewd behavior, late night parties and sexual activity weren't part of my upbringing. I had grown up in a Christian home and was active in the church. A reality check was about to happen, and I wasn't ready for it.
Stories Behind Women of Extraordinary Faith
Part 2 ~ Wise or Stupid?
After several years teaching in an alternative program, I felt comfortable dealing with the students.
This may come off as if I had an attitude, but that's not what it was like really. I don't do attitude, but I don't take it either. Basically, I could say it was more the opposite, meaning I didn't give much thought to some things. This situation was one of those "things" in particular.A brood of students began to flock in the hallway near my classroom door where my kids were standing. While they were waiting for me some students from the school began bullying them. You have to realize that these kids weren't your ordinary students, but kids that have been thrown out of public schools for violent behavior or other reasons. They were students with records. Bullying was their way of life, even with other bullies.
As I approached the door of my classroom I noticed what was happening and went into "mamma" action. I sounded off to some kids who were acting out, that if they wanted a piece of a kid they'd have to go through me and getting through me meant going through my big black angels.
At first they didn't back off, but they were thrown by what I said. "Why are your angels black?" they asked, "You're white!" I responded by saying, "God always sends what we need, and you need a Big Papa to put you in your place." Just then two huge, body built, young, black, male aides came around the corner. They had no idea of what was going down, but the boy took his hands off of me and looked shocked. I could feel him saying inside himself, "How did she do that? Boy is she good!" From that point on, my so called "posse" grew, including that particular boy.
My perception of the problem was not to be afraid, be honest and strong (not tough) and call on my angels. Fear never entered into the picture, because I had always had friends of different races other than mine.
My voice level never raised at all. I had been teaching over fifteen years before the level of my voice raised and that was when someone took my Lord's name in vain in front of me. I quickly got over it and went on teaching as if nothing happened.
We "fought" and made up within a matter of minutes. There was never any fear of anyone, so why would this bother me? I learned that Jesus was my shepherd and my protector in all situations. Race had nothing to do with the fact that the words of my mouth could have literally gotten my lights punched out in seconds.
Part 3 ~ I've Been Punked
One day I heard that I was getting a new student, only this student wasn't new to the school. She was changing classes. No big deal I thought.
A few days went by and through the school grape vine I heard the reason she was coming to my room. She was an arrogant, foul mouthed, rude, fighting individual. She was being transferred to my room for fighting.
Now I heard that she didn't want to come to my room. Being human, I took offense to it and pushed to find out why. Boy did I!
See the principal left out a few, minor details so that I would agree to take this child in the class. She gave me her file and records to read, so no problem. Then I read that she was thrown out of her district school for hitting her teacher ... her white, female teacher! She was given another chance with another teacher and did it again. Now you want me to be number three? I don't think so.
Part 4 ~ The Protest March
I marched myself down to the office to protest not who she was, but what I am, white! Did you overlook that part of the record? Hello!
As I marched to the office guess who was sitting there? You guessed it. There she was, Miss Innocent, with the "I've been rejected, mistreated by everyone," look on her face.
The principal began singing her praises to me and my praises to her, saying, "You are so perfect for one another. I know if you give it a chance this will work." I felt like saying, "Yeah, if I have a full time body guard and a spare 2 by 4 to knock her upside her head if she touches me." I'm sure she felt the same way.
What a fix this was for both of us. But wait! As I was plotting my escape from this situation, all of a sudden those unsettling feelings went away. Because of kindness or remorse? No! She was wearing a nose ring!
I couldn't take my eyes off her nose. I was like the child with a fixation that was more than obvious. You know the kind, like when you tell your kids not to stare. I had never seen anyone with one (in person) and looking up at her all I could say was, "Doesn't that thing hurt?" as my mouth dropped to my chin. My perception of her changed in an instant.
Part 5 ~ The "Weird" Teacher
We began to walk down the hallway as if we had known each other forever. Her long legs outstepping mine as I continued to look up at her and chatting.
When we got to the class, she said, "I ain't signing no contract." Her perception of what our class was all about was far from the truth, because she had never been in our classroom.
In her eyes, this sixteen year old girl knew I was the weird teacher who didn't let her kids out in the "pen corral" outdoors with the other classes. We took our breaks at another time."You don't trust your kids",
Photo google images signing of the contract by esellermedia.com
In short, students in my classroom had to sign a contract in order to remain in my class. This was because these kids desired to return to their districts (the schools which kicked them out in the first place).
The rules were strict; they had to be
if the kids were going to make it. However, privileges were many.
Part 6 ~ Who Made this Deal Anyway?
I made a deal with her. She was the first one I ever did that with and God is the only one to know why. It was just the right thing to do at the time.
She had two weeks to decide if she could cut it in our class or not. There were no privileges until I had a signed contract from her, and she wasn't allowed to tell anyone that she didn't have a contract. If she did, our deal was off.
Image credit Photobucket by oilersnhi
This about sums it up ~ for both of us.
"Somehow the wires uncrossed, the tables were turned.
Never knew I had such a lesson to learn...
I tidied up my point of view, I got a new attitude!"
If video clip isn't working click on link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWfZ5SZZ4xE
Patti LaBelle - New Attitude
Part 7 ~ A New Attitude ... It's Extreme!
As the week went on, she was still acting tough. We would have some discussions in class and she would try to chime in with attitude. The rest of the class ignored her. They were prepared for "new attitude", because new kids come all the time. Seems they get thrown out of school all through the year. Anyway, she had a real problem with not being responded to or better yet, with not getting any reaction.
She soon learned it wasn't about her. It was about her perception of what "we" were that was getting to her. Now she was sitting in high school with kids, playing board games during breaks, teaching one another reading and math during a science lesson (I had 7 levels in one class), and a student disciplining another child that said "no" to me. This class was nothing like she thought it was or the other kids in the school who weren't in the class, thought it was.
Kids could talk honestly, bargain in a contract, relax and yes, be good with no pressure because everyone in the class was working toward the same goal. A chance to go back to district and be a "regular" student again, with all the mistakes behind them was what they were working toward. They were learning to be responsible and liked its rewards.
Bring it on girl. It's a whole new game!
I'm in it to win it, so I'm pushing you to the limits.
Here we go, let’s do this!
Push it to the limit, because we’re in this to win it.
This is where my heart is and I’m going to finish this.
We have to work it out and give it all we can give it.
If video clip isn't working click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3-JA49q-0o&feature=player_detailpage
Part 8 ~ Push to the Limit
Even though she could do all these things in class, they didn't mean that much to her at first. This young lady didn't want to go back to district and believe me, she wasn't welcome back either, so she didn't care about all these things.
My heart was really in this now. Something had to change. How would I be able to work in her life, push her to her limits, get her to trust me, and still keep the flying fists off of me? Put her in charge!
Part 9 ~ Say what?
Yes, you heard me, put her in charge!
I gave her so many responsibilities over the next one and a half years that the contract from the beginning was a given fact that would take place.
In that time, we came to love each other with all our hearts. Her nose ring disappeared and so did my whiteness. No, not from our bodies, but from our eyes and perception.
Her choice of where to put her jewelry and me being a white, female teacher didn't matter. Nothing mattered between us but our new love, attitude and respect for one another. Issues didn't matter. We finally arrived at the same level of understanding, at the same time, eventhough I was older (and the teacher).
During this time, we became so close that she felt it was her duty to warn the new kids about getting me "started". This is what I would hear as newbies arrived.
"Don't ask her any questions or tell her anything. She has more stories than anyone I know. Whatever you tell her, she'll say that it reminds her of something else, or did she tell you about this or that."
Then she would smile and wrap her arms around me, as if to calm me from the verbal thrashing she just gave me. There was a change of hearts. Her comfort zone was no longer threatened ... and neither was mine.
Image Photobucket by lafeeauxchoux
Stories that tell the story.
Stories Behind Something
I like reading about the facts that make something become a story worth sharing. For example, did you ever wonder why the song Silent Night was written? It's a favorite of mine, and it was interesting to learn all about its background.
You'll enjoy reading this as well as other Ace Collins books and the stories behind the songs.
Stories of Traditions from Around the World
Learning about Short Story Writing
Learn how to write a short story or just listen to a one.
If videos are working use these links:
From Sea to Shining Sea; A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs - This is the book my husband often used to tell his "tales" to the kids.
Why not tell one today?
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