The Privilege of Teaching: Witnessing Goodness

Today, in class, one of my students who typically is very withdrawn/antisocial did the most incredible thing. No hyperbole. It was truly the sweetest and kindest unsolicited thoughtful act I’ve ever seen someone do. 

Backstory: I have taught this student for years and he has never seemed to connect very well with other classmates, no matter the size of the group. At the school where I teach, quirky students aren’t exactly unusual and the culture is one of general acceptance, but this fellow always struck me as an outlier among a group of outliers. I mean, his classmates like him well enough and are generally nice/tolerant towards him, but his disconnection from peers was concerning. I’ve worried about him over the years I’ve had him in class, but he also is mostly in his own world and has never seemed to mind the disconnect. He’s that guy that is always staring off into the distance and distracted when we’re talking. . .

Story: So today, as we were transitioning from lunch to class-time and kids were filtering into the room, he turned to the three students that were in the room and started talking to them. Now, sometimes, when he does this, it’s kind of like you’re picking up mid-stream-of-thought. As in: he’s already had the 1st half of the conversation in his head and you have to catch up really fast in order to make any sense of what he’s talking about . . . I could tell that the three listeners were expecting that kind of conversation, but instead this happened:

“Hey, so a few days ago in one of my classes, one of my friends was really down on himself about a lot of things, and it got me thinking. I mean, none of my friends see themselves the way I see them, and I wish that they could see all the awesome qualities in themselves the way that I do . . . so I decided to tell people how I see them. So, I wrote you each something.”

He proceeded to give out POEMS to each of the three people he was speaking to . . . and I got to read one (with permission, of course) and OH MY DEAR SWEET LORD IN HEAVEN.

I cannot even begin to do justice to the magnitude of this act in my description; this would have been unbelievably thoughtful coming from ANYONE, but is rendered even more remarkable by this student’s usually-detached nature. I am trying to figure out how on earth I can make you understand the UTTER and complete sweetness of this gesture.  He wrote individualized, BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN, page-long (like 8 stanzas each!), RHYMING poems describing all the unique ways he found his classmates special and about how much they brought to his world with their personalities. He gave SPECIFIC EXAMPLES about ways that they have made his life in school better and applauded different aspects of their specific personality that he appreciates. I MEAN. I CAN’T EVEN ~ 

Suffice it to say: I very nearly cried on the spot.

The poem-recipients were equally as floored and so touched. It clearly made their day, and I was just so thankful for the reminder of how wonderful people can be, even when it is least expected.

I just wanted to share, because observing this whole scenario made me unbelievably happy in my heart.

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