There are so many children in desperate need of mentors. I teach 8th grade English at an inner city public school and my students and I have the most memorable moments when we just get to talk. These magical moments don’t occur when I’m making them write a 5 paragraph essay or forcing them to understand subject-verb agreement. Only on the days when we have a little free time, which isn’t too often thanks to standardized tests week in and week out, but every now and again we have these moments. Today was one of those days, I had a young lady to hit a young man and so he with all his might he proceeded to hit her back. So instead of sending them immediately to the office I decided to just talk to them both seperately and then collectively. Their exploratory class was cancelled so we had a little free time to talk while the other students either eavesdropped on our conversation, were on the computer or were leisurely reading. After talking to the boy and girl seperately I made them come together and both tell each other what they had learned from our one on one conversation. So the young man shared with her that he had learned that it’s not okay for anyone who calls himself a man to hit a woman, that men are naturally physically stronger and that he could’ve unintentionally but seriously hurt her, he also learned that when he aggravates people he risks the chance of them retaliating and that he must learn not to aggravate so much,etc. The young lady informed him that she learned that she should keep her hands to herself because her stingfire slap could cause a young man to seriously injure her from a hit that comes out of retaliation. She learned that she shouldn’t assume that all young men will resist hitting back and she also learned that all young men do not have someone at home telling right from wrong. So the conversation went on for a little while longer but ultimately ended in them both admitting where they went wrong, how they can handle the situation better in the future and with two heartfelt apologies.
I said all that to say that rather than send those two to the office with an end result of suspension, it had a much greater effect to call them both together and mentor them for a few minutes. I realized that so many of our young people need someone to help turn the light bulb on in their heads and especially about social interaction, what’s appropriate and not appropriate in society. We can’t assume that all children have mentors in their lives. When an opportunity presents itself where we as adults can drop a nugget of wisdom into a young person’s life, we should jump at the chance!
Do you have an example of a time where you changed a young person’s life? Do you know of any good mentorship programs?