What matters most is how you treat others. People simply want to know you love them, that you are concerned about them and that they matter to you. It’s imperative to see this at the time they are seeking your attention. It communicates a sense of care and kindness.
I learned some of this with a student last year who did everything but stand on her head to gain MY attention. It didn’t matter what kind; I just needed to give her some form of undivided attention…. even down to her negative behavior that began to wear on the last inch of my final nerve.
For months I did not know all she really wanted it was too much… I had done everything from incentives to punishments, conferences, time-outs, gifts…..you name it we had exhausted all methods, but I really liked her a lot. The moment of truth came on one day I was absent, and of course I dreaded reading the substitute’s notes upon my return. True to her track record, the day I was absent, during the lunch time she had stabbed a little boy with a plastic fork (luckily he wasn’t hurt badly) not only that, but she had also hid in the restroom.
At first I was livid, but I didn’t say anything. I noticed her watching me all morning but I decided to go on about the day. The attention seeking started, first it was a shuffle, then it was the humming, finally a fall out the chair. Instead of reprimanding I decided to send her to another class.
Normally, she was very polite, obedient and compliant. Like I said, I liked her a lot and she was not what you would call a “bad” kid. I liked her fire, and her strong personality. But when I told her to leave the was the first time in our history was she defiant. She looked me straight in my face and refused to leave. I was astonished.
Then she ran to my desk, stood in front of me shaking her head no… I could see little tears welling in her eyes. Another shocker, she was a TOUGH ONE, NEVER HAD I SEEN TEARS.
HHHmmmmmnnn, I was onto something. I didn’t back down, I had to win this one, maybe it would be a breakthrough on the horizon; she cared a little. I responded, ” No, I need you to go next door and do your work there, you are distracting our class, you need to go now” Too overcome with her emotions, she couldn’t speak but repeatedly shook her head no. Stubborn one too.
In order for this stand-off to end; I left her there at the desk and I proceeded with the rest of the class. I saw her ease back to her seat and began writing. Meanwhile the entire class was wide-eyed, nervous and wondering what will happen next. I keep the situation moving, pretended I didn’t notice their bewilderment and keep going with the activities of the morning.
My little attention seeker eased a note on my desk, (as if I couldn’t see her) When I’d finished my lesson, circulated, everyone was engaged in activity I sat at my desk to figure out how to address the current situation. I prayed silently; God you need to show me how to fix this one, we can’t go the rest of the year like this…
Her note read something like: ” ms jonson pleaze dont push me out of your class.i cudntent liv out of your classroom i dont no what i wud do out of your clssroom please i promise to be good forever please i will do anyting just dont put me out”
I was even more stunnned, what?????? What was this all about? I knew for sure she wanted out, didn’t like me, the class, the set up or something…. I was bewildeered. All morning I pondered.
The afternoon rolled around and on the way to P.E. I held her back to talk as the other students proceeded. I looked at her and simply said…
“Talk Straight, tell me what is going in your head up there and what is in your heart on this paper, why can you not stay on task, and why do you find ways to get in trouble, ALL THE TIME”
This time, tears began to roll, her little bottom lip quivered, she rocked back and forth and she said in a weepish trembling voice….
“Miss…. Johnson, I just want YOU.. to……… like me and……to love me”
Now you know…. I had to turn away to keep from crying myself….all this baby wanted was love and attention. She had given me a set of gray strands to prove to me she was worth just a little more of my undivided attention and time.
We discussed ways of gaining attention (positively), I expressed to her my care and expectations. I reassured her how much I really DID like her and was happy to have her in my class…. as we concluded our conversation I said, now tell me why did you stab the boy with a fork…
Her reply… He called me a Kung-Fu Panda.
I chuckled and decided to it as our code word. She promised to not show me the Kung-Fu Panda behaviors and I would make sure I gave her a big Panda hug for her times of needing some reassurance.
Needless to say…. I’ve seen her around this year, we smile and chuckle and when she looks a bit unnerve she’ll run up and give me a Panda hug… I’ve never seen the Kung-Fu side come out again.
Why such an example….. only for me to say
Take a moment to ….Look beyond the surface, see what matters most….
All people want to know is that you Love them, care about them…. give them some extra attention, a little more care, and add some kindness you just may get different results.