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I want to share with you a story about what happened at the end of the school year. On your Facebook page, you had posted: "Spirit Whisperers do Strength Searching. They search for strengths in a child's misbehavior. They ask themselves, 'What is it about this behavior that, if it occurred in a different setting, would be positive? Where else could this child use this behavior to her advantage?'"
This post really spoke to me, and I mulled it over for some time. While I was thinking about it one day, and simultaneously thinking about the difficult kids in my literacy class (a class for high school students at a third- to fifth-grade reading level), it occurred to me: I needed to write each student a letter. I decided that in each student's letter, I would identify a trait that stood out to me as being valuable in a future setting. I purposely picked traits that students had probably been scolded in the past for displaying.
At the end of the school year, I had an individual conference with each student and read each one their letter.It was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. One student smiled and said, "Hey, I am like that!" Another one acted aloof but immediately afterward, stood up for herself where I had seen her cave to peer pressure before. And the most difficult student I have ever had just smiled and asked me to laminate the letter for him.
Writing and sharing these letters was the most valuable thing I have ever done as an educator. In doing this, I was forced to see my students' annoying habits as strengths. I developed a new appreciation for each one of my students. All of a sudden, the girl in the front wasn't the "loud girl" to me anymore; she was a proponent of social justice. The "class clown" became someone who used his sense of humor to bring healing to others. And the "quiet girl" became a deep thinker who may just change the world one of these days. In truth, doing this was a lengthy process, but it was so, so worth it.
In the future, I plan to continue writing letters to my students, especially to the students like these who need it the most. Thank you for the words of truth you share on your Facebook page. I appreciate your inspiration.