Slice of Life (Day 10): The Tangled Knots of She Said/He Said/She Said

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write all through March, every day, about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

One of my students was crying. The cafeteria director asked me, Why is she crying? I didn’t know. It happened at the end of lunch. I walked over, and took the student aside, and tried to gently figure out what was happening. It wasn’t easy. It’s hard to talk when you are crying. We took our time.

knots flickr photo by mlberman25 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Untangling the knots of adolescent social conflicts requires finesse, and patience, and compassion. In essence, this is what happened, and it involved my student, and two others.

Student1 was crying because Student2 told her that Student3 had said that Student1 talked about Student2 behind Student2’s back. Student2 confirmed that Student3 said that, but Student2 didn’t really believe it. Why did Student2 tell Student1 that, then? They didn’t know. Meanwhile, Student3 said the tone in which Student2 asked the question about whether Student1 talked about Student2 behind their back seemed to indicate that if Student3 didn’t implicate Student1, Student2 would be angry with Student3. So, Student3 admitted to what they said about Student1 to Student2, but explained it wasn’t true: Student1 was not talking behind Student2’s back. Student3 apologized to Student1. Apology accepted. Student2 apologized to Student3. Apology accepted. Crisis averted. For now.

If you could follow all that, well, more power to you. My head was spinning as I was trying to sort it all out in the hallway, but was relieved that the crying (two students were sobbing by the time we were done) was over and the apologies were accepted. I know I made this exchange into a bewildering post but I also know that for 11 and 12 year olds, this is serious business and helping them to sort it out was probably the best thing I did during the day.

I won’t even get into the other student who I found crying in the hallway earlier in the day for an entirely different reason …but we hopefully sorted that out, too.

Peace (in hallways and in friendship),

  1. A most real – perhaps the realest of real – slice of daily life for a teacher. It was more fun than bewildering! Thanks for a light moment to start the day (which is – shall we celebrate? – Friday!).

  2. Your slice triggered my 12-year-old self, and I wanted to cry for minute there too. But seriously, I love that you recognized that it’s important for teachers to help them get it sorted. Good job!

  3. I love how you listened. I think when emotions become overwhelming, it’s not about the logic, it’s about being seen and being heard. You honored that. Wishing you a crying-free day!

  4. the untangling of relationship knots is something we can view as an investment Kevin. I can see you do. Sometimes it require the wisdom and patience of Solomon, but until it is resolved we often find the participants have trouble moving forward. We move them gently towards the light of reason.

  5. Ha! I totally followed the he said, she said as that conversation is one I have almost every day. It reminds me that so much of being a teacher has nothing to do with standards and testing and content areas and a lot to do with learning to be human.

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