This has been quite the election week. Social media has been an eye-opening spectacle. Comments and posts from friends on both side of the aisle have been shocking. The memes….don’t get me started! In real life, away from the electronic screens, there have been even more disgusting behaviors on display. From all sides.
There have been a variety of reactions from friends near and far. Some have remained silent; choosing to remain neutral and/or deciding it’s not worth the aggravation to add to the conversation. Some have chosen to gloat, while others have chosen cry and worry about their rights, livelihood, and safety. Some have chosen to comfort those who are upset or have been outspoken toward those putting forth negativity. Some have chosen to fight back with fiery comments to combat what’s been said to them. Because we are blessed with the freedom of speech, each reaction is an indisputable right.
I have quite a unique situation. While I am active in social media and have witnessed quite the variety of reactions, I am also a 5th grade teacher. The hallway locker area, buses, and cafeteria, have been buzzing quite loudly these last few days. Talks about walls, tax returns, poor treatment of women, emails, hitmen, Benghazi, etc were all within earshot from the mouths of students, most of which can be traced back to overhearing grown-up conversations, news, and social media posts.
One in my position has to be careful in how I react to these cases, especially at work. I could get mad, I could take sides, I could punish, I could ignore, I could go home and cry. While thoughts of how I would deal with my students ran circles around my head for quite some time on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, it didn’t take long to make a decision once I walked into my classroom and glanced at the first bulletin board in my room, along with a painting my mother painted, which is prominently displayed and clearly visible as you walk into the room.
If you’ve been following along with my blog, you’ll recall the efforts I’ve made to create a caring classroom family atmosphere. I’ve continuously modeled how and have encouraged our “family”to deliver random acts of kindness in all ways, shapes, and forms to those who seem like they need it. We even cap off the year with an elaborate flashmob designed to bring chear to a student we feel needs it. Read about flashmob 2015 here.
This year, we’ve created a “Leave a Note of Kindness” bulletin board, where kids can drop a note to someone to either make their day, or to recognize how others have made their day. The board is positioned in a way students can see the notes and the wonderful painting my mother created for our classroom.
It was when I walked past this very bulletin board, sat in front of it, and read the words of ten/eleven-year-olds from my classroom “family”, I realized how I needed to react to the current events: With kindness. With hope. With empathy. And then I realized….
I’m already doing that. And so are my kids.
Here are a few of the notes that I’ve walked past daily and hadn’t quite noticed until this week:
Then there was this on my desk:
At the end of the day, there is still social media ugliness, there is hate, there is fear, there is discrimination of all shapes of colors. I know my rights are going to be challenged. I know my some friends are going to face similar issues. I know there are people worse off than me. Instead of joining the cycle, I’m chosing to control what I can and that’s me. It’s who I choose to surround myself with. It’s the message of #inspirechange I share with my class. It’s kindness.
Join me. We’ll be ok.
Three things in human life are important:
the first is to be kind;
the second is to be kind;
and the third is to be kind.