An Olympic ceremony's song pops into my head with a John Lennon verse added.
Imagine all the people living in harmony
"You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one
My anti-Valentine's Day boys entered. Alex handcuffs, Darin with a sheepish grin, Cy hates girls, Mark thinks they are stupid like his mom, and Bailey, also, a 10-year old; who collectively did not want to do "prissy" things. Because of all the boys resistance to Valentine's Day, I gave my usual handshake and eye contact while adding a pat on the back. The pat on the back stuck a heart-shaped sticker with each student's positive personality attribute. I made sure to block the next person's view and asked them to seat themselves in a semi-circle at the worktable.
My favorite way to teach was by discovery, though it was often difficult to keep my composure. We stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, began our discussion concerning the assemble line for car manufacturing and how it would relate to our making valentine cards faster and less 'painful'. All agreed to expedite the process to have extra free time. As I talked, my educational assistant walked around the room strategically affixing compliments on the rest of the classes backs.
Suddenly all joy broke loose when Alex leaned back and exclaimed to the student beside him, "There's a mushy heart on you." The five boys squirmed like a can of earthworms trying to remove their positive stickers. Permission was granted to remove them only if they stuck them on their journals, homework folders or notebooks. These truths were to be worn for three hours and be visible if they wanted the party. This was bribery. They had permission to complain. We all remember our faults. I was simply putting their positives into perspective. (Some children kept them for their entire hospital stay).
Our Valentine's Day party let the boys discover that being nice is nice when they could claim coercion, "My teacher made me." They grumbled and groaned. I assured them that my heart ached for them, but they had to make valentines for the nursing staff. The group organized an assemble line without the conveyor belt. The mission was to assemble symmetrical red hearts with doilies designed and the verse from "Dear Abby" cut and pasted on each.
Everyone in the group had to assemble or forget the party. Clem, the brainy student, spoke up that "Dr. K does not renege on her word. She may apologize but does not go back on her word." He told them he had once lost computer privileges abruptly when she had pulled the plug saying that he was more important than any computer. While grumbling, Marc informed Bailey that "Dr. K may be nice, but she is not easy." Bailey, our only fourth grader among these sixth graders stood up in a huff and said, "Okay, I am the boss. Let's get this line going so we can party." He assigned the jobs. He put the nurses' names on the hearts and check off the names on the list at the end of the assembly line.
To my dismay and secret delight he assigned the worst cutter, Clem, to cut out the verses. Production was under way, paper and paste everywhere. Dollies stuck to everything including scissors. My assistant and I had to restrain our educational good intention instincts to help. This was a self-confidence assignment and not to be compromised. No one would have to say, "But Dr. K and Ms. H helped.
Eventually, "Boss Bailey" stepped forward and delivered 15 hearts each with a nurse's name and children's signatures. After examining each one I announced, "Mission accomplished. Men, chose your computers. Start your engines.
The party began and I knew that someday they would join us in a better way. Imagine!
The world in a better way. Share this "mushiness" and give a love pat to some one. Happy V day!
Kaye is a teacher and author of multiple works including Valerie Valentine Visits Vincent Vampire