Yesterday, I started my 9th year of intentionally mentoring students during lunch while I am in the role of a public school teacher. I decided to work with two fifth graders who had been struggling with their behavior this year. With their teacher’s discretion, we added two other boys to the group to serve as role models. Even though I have been mentoring students for this long, I still worry if they will be a good fit or if I will be able to speak to where they are.
Yesterday started off like most groups do. I talked to them about how I struggled one year in school and I was on the wrong track, visiting the principal and being written up more than I should ever admit. I saw the eyes of my brand new students light up, when I told them, “ I know where you are, I was there once too.” One of the students said, “I was in the office a lot last year, too” I made a connection with him and the other boy who are struggling in their behavior this year.
The other two boys that are there are nice kids, who I think probably have a lot going for them. I am sure I will find out as I work with them, they have two parents at home, are middle or upper class, and have a lot of advantages that the other two boys do not. This is the beautiful and sad make up of my school, we sit on about a 51% rate of poverty. This means that every other child in a lunch line is free or reduced lunch rate. It also normally means that there are more struggles facing these kids than what is “normal” for our area.
I decided to try something new with this brand new group and open up our time with some talk and then go to play some basketball in teams. It really went well. I played alongside them and cheered them on. It is amazing how we are wired for teamwork and competition. We ended up our time, of course they were disappointed to go back into the general population of students, but I did see the most severe of behavior issues walk close beside me as I walked him to music. He had a already bought. Pride filled his chest as he walked into the room, and he felt special, as he was able to spend some time away from the other kids and be intentionally cared for.
What a great break to my day. I loved it. I can’t wait until next Thursday.