It was a new classroom; new students, new challenges and new opportunities.
As with any classroom I have the honour of stepping foot in, it takes some time to get to know the class dynamic, the kids and the teacher. In this particular classroom, the tension between students was evident and palpable. So much so that the teacher told me on week 3, that the challenges between two students were such that she had to put them at opposite corners of the room. Two boys specifically, we'll call them "Tyson" and "Jeremy" were rivals, proximity caused literal fights and arguments to break out as the power struggle between these two boys would escalate. Even in my workshops I witnessed the verbal insults hurled between these two boys.
For eight weeks we talked about kindness and the superpower we all have to make a positive difference in the world. We talked about the responsibility we have to nurture the goodness inside us by building habits of kindness into our daily routine and interactions. By the end of the eight weeks, as I do with every group I get to work with, I read aloud the personalized affirmations I had written out for each student. With a few moments to spare, I asked the class to give me insights on what the class learned. With humility, Tyson stood up, holding his affirmation card and said out loud to his classmates, what I later found he had written to me in a thank you card. This is what he said in fewer words:
Tyson stood in front of his peers, his teacher and his rival and confessed to being a bully and told everyone that day that he would change. I looked to see his teacher wiping tears from her face. In sharing the card with the principle she exclaimed "If he said, he will do it." My heart was full.
I thought the story ended there, but it didn't.
The following summer, as I was walking my dog along the trails by the blind school, I pulled over to let two young boys pass me on their bikes. I recognized one of them immediately, it was Tyson. He recognized me. This is how the dialogue went down:
Tyson: Hey, I know you from somewhere, where do I know you from?
Me: Superhero In Me, You're Tyson right? (Taking note of the smile and notable change in demeanor from when I met him last fall.)
Tyson: I knew it, you are the Superhero In Me lady!
Me: Yes, (Turning to the other boy) now help me with your name, because I remember your face!
Other boy: I'm Jeremy!
Me: Jeremy! Right! What are you guys up to? (I tried to hide my shock. These boys less than a year ago, couldn't stand each other. I listened on.)
Tyson: Well, we are going to Canada's Wonderland together today, and we had time to play, so I let Jeremy use my other bike and we're riding the trails until it's time to go.
Me: Great idea! It's good to see you are using your kindness superpower.
The boys proceeded to tell me of times in the past few weeks they had been helping those around them, including helping an older gentleman with his wheelchair.
Tyson: I would really like to see you again Superhero lady, but I won't be back at that school, is there any way you can come to my new school? My parents got divorced.
The conversation went on a few more minutes as I took a moment to encourage and commend these two boys, but my heart was skipping a beat. Tyson had made a choice last fall that truly changed his life.
Kindness turned former rivals into best friends.
Kindness turned former bully's into citizens making a difference in their neighbourhood. Captain Kindness was right. We CAN change a city, a classroom, a relationship BY good, INTO Good. Kindness isn't a fairytale notion. It is a gift that can transform lives by a single choice.
How will you unleash your superpower of kindness today?
Interested in having Superhero In Me at your school? Share this blog with your Principal and encourage them to reach out at nickistraza.com