Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Piece for Peace

One morning this past week, a few of my students had a rough start to their school day. It was what my fellow teacher Elke calls a "bad air day." One of those days when there's just that feel in the building: a mix of frustration, exhaustion, and distraction. Bad air.

The students in questions were friends, had been friends all year. But this morning they entered yelling at one another. More accurately, one was yelling at the other, and the silent one was trying to contain himself from firing back. They settled in their seats and stopped, but the tension was heavy. I had my eye on them both.

We started class as we always do, with a free-write. After ten minutes or so, I allow time for sharing, and the first volunteer was a mutual friend of the two feuding students. He shared this piece:

Don't fight, sweet ocelots;
An Ocelot - Courtesy the Internet Archive
don't throw your friendship away;
don't sweat the little things,
and don't scream at your friends.

Do listen to each other;
do take the time to think;
do tell your friends to love them,
oh, you silly ocelots.

J and Mr. S.C.,
the closest two ocelots can be;
don't go for each other's throats;
that's advice from me.

While he read, I saw the faintest smile on the silent one's face. In the matter of a minute, the tension was gone. By the end of class, all was forgotten, and by the end of the day, the two friends who began the day in contention, left the building laughing together.

Sometimes we just need the time to write to get our thoughts in order and put things in perspective. Sometimes we just need to listen to others who will do that for us.

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