At my old school our guidance counselor would come in and do a few different lessons for the class. They ranged from helping with test taking anxiety, to being a good friend, to understanding the impact of bullying. One of them was always very meaningful to me, and I want to share it tonight.
Our counselor would bring in either a piece of paper or a board, hammer and some nails. As she told a story of a child being bullied she would crumple the paper or nail the nails into the board. In the usual manner of many kids' stories students would come to the aid of the the student being bullied, and everybody lived happily ever after.
Or so you thought.
After finishing the story, the counselor would uncrumple the paper or pull the nails out of the board. Think about that in your mind. What do you see? If you're picturing the paper, you see a piece of paper that was crumpled up. You can smooth it, rub it, iron it even. But the faint signs of those wrinkles will always be there. And what if you pictured the board? You saw all the holes left behind by the nails. Sure, you can fill them with putty. You can sand and paint. But really, truly, deep down, that board will always have holes in it.
I was reminded about this story today because I got lots of positive messages throughout the day - thank you messages for teacher appreciate day, funny comments and compliments and hugs from the kids. So many positives. And yet one hurtful comment, and all I'm left with is a hole. Some wrinkles.
I'm 37. If this is how I feel after one hurtful comment from an adult, how must our students feel when they are barraged with negative messages from teachers throughout the day? I can't even imagine.
I hope you did not create any holes or wrinkles for anybody today. And if you did, they'll never go away. But I hope you'll try the best you can to mend them.