Slice of Life: A Pivot Point

(This is part of the Slice of Life writing activity sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. Come join us by writing about small moments each Tuesday.)


Something strange has happened in the dynamics of my classroom in the past two weeks or so. I’m not sure exactly where or what it springs from, and I struggling right now with how to right the ship, too. There are always pivot points each year in a classroom culture where the mood of a group of kids can suddenly turn from what you thought it was to something you were not expecting it to be at all.

I am at one of the pivots, and I don’t like it at all.

Sometimes, the pivot a good thing. Maturity kicks in. Friendships blossom. A cohesiveness emerges. You hope that, as the teacher, your work around community building has paid off, that the small things can make a big difference in the way kids see themselves, and the world — the small world of the classroom as well as the large world of the World.

Right now, my class is sort of in opposite mode, and I obviously won’t go into specifics, but there’s a small clique of students who are making negative ripples as part of social posturing, and I am worried about the tide. I’m not turning a blind eye to it. I’m addressing what I see, and what I hear, and what I hear about, as quickly and as judiciously as I can. I’m using positive reinforcement and negative consequences. Parents are involved. The administration is involved. And I am reaching into the teaching bag for all I have, in hopes I can change what needs to be changed so we can move forward with positive energy — all of us.

Still, youthful social dynamics can be a powerful force. On their own, each student in this clique is a nice kid. As a group, they become something I barely recognize at times when I hear some of the stories of how they treat others in the hallways, on the playground, on the bus. And, online, too. Never in the classroom, though.

I’m struggling to make it right, and it makes me sad and frustrated to know this, too, is part of teaching, when so many of my students just want a safe and fun place to learn each day.

Peace (in the think),


  1. I’m always stunned when kids come together in ways that are hurtful. Sending lots of positive thoughts and wisdom. A book I loved and thought would be a good sixth grade-ish read aloud- TWERP. Hang in there!

  2. Oh Kevin, this makes me sad. I’m sorry this is something you’re dealing with right now. I am grateful that you wrote about it though. I have had years where this has happened. I’ve felt alone and responsible…like I am the only one who has gone through this. Know you aren’t alone. We’ve been there. Some are there with you now. I have faith that you will handle this with grace and wisdom and kindness. Believe that the students will see this…even if they can’t articulate it now. 🙂 Thinking of you!

  3. Oh my, as much as I hate hearing that this is happening in your classroom, I can definitely identify with it. It’s happened in mine over the years, and it’s not fun. I wish you the best of luck – noticing it and addressing it is a good start!

  4. Thanks for the post and sharing something that is real. Your heartbreak shines through in your writing and because you’re aware and care, you will make an impact on the lives of your students.

  5. Sometimes it’s just about the chemistry, the interaction of souls in the moment. I know your influence is big. Even if you don’t see it immediately. Hang in there. As Vanessa said, you are aware and care and that makes a huge difference.

  6. Thanks Kevin for sharing your challenges with us. like everyone else I’m remembering that group that can work to undermind the community. I think it’s so helpful to have outside resources to help support your work and keep the issue beyond your classroom. Hope thing turn around as you get close to vacation and the holidays,

  7. Kevin, I wonder why when I read your piece. Why are they doing this? What is making them work this way when together? I wonder if they even know why. Your struggle is so important and it is critical that you have showed them that this matters to you. It sounds like you are constructing solutions with them which is also so important. They are so fortunate to have you as a teacher. You will find the way to re-pivot! Each Kindness could be a good text to read.

  8. Yikes! Negative peer pressure. Herd brhavior. Mob spirit.
    Not the good sides of our nature.
    Sorry you’re in the middle of this.
    Writing the truth — everyone involved– as you have done could make a difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *