Tuesday, March 20, 2012

To Kill A Mockingbird

There’s a young sophomore boy who I got off to a very bad start with early in the year when he was in our workroom pushing a female student so I intervened and asked him to leave.  When he wouldn’t I stepped in between the two students and he bumped into me and almost fell over (he’s very small). So he stood up and started cussing me out leaving the room in a huff. It turned out he and the student he was pushing were very good friends and just playing around.  At this point I wasn’t used to how violently the play and thought a real fight was breaking out (it can still be hard to tell the difference between a real fight and a play fight).  I apologized to the young man but tried to explain that we can’t allow that kind of playing.
For months and months this boy hated me. He would make fun of anything he could about me. My hair, my nose, the way I spoke whatever. I couldn’t stand him! He would come to our workroom every morning before school and come every day after.  Sometimes it seemed just to harass me.
In the past month and a half things have gotten better, his insults are in a much more joking fashion and not nearly as brutal. I can joke back with him without him getting offended or mad.  He talks to me all the time now and is always pretending to steal from me.  Don’t get me wrong the kid is still extremely obnoxious but on days when I would get annoyed with him I had to remind myself that he must feel safe with us because he spends all of his free time in our room and will even try to skip class to hang out with us. 
This student has been jumped a few times and feels threatened very easily because of his size. He used to always try and get me upset.  In our training we were told this behavior is very common among some students because they want to test us and see if we will leave them or stop talking to them, a lot of trust issues with our kids.

So I started to read To Kill A Mockingbird once again, it’s one of my all time favorite books.  I guess that this same student saw me reading it because today he came up to me and said “hey Mr. Vinegar” (another way he teases me) and pulled out of his backpack a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird.  “Are you reading that in class or on your own?” I asked. “On my own, I’m finna start reading it tonight”
I have not been this touched in a long time.  Our students never read; especially if it’s not even an assignment.  I don’t know if he will read the whole book, it may be a bit past his reading level. But the thought that he went out of his way to check out a book from the library because I was reading the same book is bringing tears to my eyes. This guy hated me, and now he’s copying me in the best way he could, by educating himself.  What a great day.

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