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Monday, May 19, 2014

How to Turn Their Horns into Halos.....See them as the Super Heroes they COULD Be

There is an imaginary wire that connects our hearts to our heads.  For
some students, someone or something has cut that wire,  causing an
emotional and mental disconnect. This could be from something simple like parents getting a divorce, a financial crisis, or the death of a family member.  Other times it could be some form of physical/verbal abuse, or involvement with gangs or drugs.  Let me give you a few real life examples:  After teaching for seven years in a neighborhood school, I moved to a school that had several families involved in gangs.  In my very first interview with my new principal, she informed me that one of my students was just returning from spending the entire year in an alternative center. His 3rd grade teacher upset him so much that he brought a loaded gun to kill her.  This frightened me, and I wasn't at all sure I was up for the task.  She felt that I might be able to make a difference as a male role model, because this child had no father in his life.  Another year, a  student expressed his anger in a different way.  He grabbed his chair/desk, flung it at his teacher, and hit her right on the head.  She was rushed to the hospital and it was discovered she had a concussion.  These were just two of dozens of examples of the types of students I was blessed with, so I  knew that I needed a way to reconnect that wire, and realized that would only be able to happen if I was able to connect with their hearts by showing that I cared about them.  It would be only AFTER that took place that  they would allow me to eventually connect to their minds to re-engage the desire to learn.   There is never ONE exclusive method to help difficult children, but changing the way I looked at them was where I knew that I would have to start.  This activity below helped immensely.
                                                              Super Heroes as Students
     Since most children and even adults love all the super hero movies that are coming out, I wanted them to take a closer look at the most popular ones to discover that even they could have had some bad habits they needed to overcome.  We tried to imagine a BEFORE and AFTER of what they might have been like as students before a wonderful teacher came in their lives. They just needed a little guidance on how to overcome their weaknesses so that they can focus more on their strengths. Here is a quick summary of my favorites that we came up with together!
Super Man-  a great student, but is weak around kryptonite. He just has a few bad habits that he needs to break
Batman- He spends too much time in the dark, and keeps others there as well.  
Robin-  When you think of Batman, you think of Robin...always. Are your friends and surroundings keeping you from being a good student? He needs to spend more time with Batman and less time with the Joker!
Incredible Hulk-  He once wasn’t incredible.........he used to have a violent out of control temper, anger issues if anyone messed with him. If you struggle with this, you usually justify it by saying you’re standing up for your rights....
Flash- ADHD  a little too wire....out of control
Spider Man- lives in a web of confusion
Spider Woman- distracted by Spider Man and  other boys
Mr. Fantastic- Stretch.....flexible becomes compromise
Invisible Woman- You can’t find her when you need her....for work or she's absent.
Human Torch-  You’re always having to put out his fires....
Thing-  He’s very hard headed and hard hearted
Captain America-  the star....he always needs to be the center of attention and wants you to tell you how awesome he is, or how much you need him.
Space Man- Instead of using his imagination to go where no man has gone before....he allows his mind to wander...always getting distracted by the cares of the world.
Peace Man-  Sometimes compromises truth in order to not rock the boat, in order to get along and make peace
Tony Romo-  When the pressure is on, he chokes.  You can’t rely on him to be dependable when you need him.
Police man-  Instead of fighting crime, he always want to fight with everyone,
Thor- always has to be playing with something....uses a weapon....sometimes it is his words. Often he uses your past against you.
Iron Man- Such a hard exterior, he doesn’t let you into his heart to see what he’s really thinking...he tries to act like everything is perfect so that he appears in control.
Hawkeye-  He sees and points out all your weaknesses and hits the bulls eye, but is not nice about it.
Black Widow-  lots of weapons at her disposal to hit you with or throw at you, pencil, wads of paper, her shoes, books
Wonder Woman-Lasso of Truth, but more worried about jewelry and outward appearance 
Under Dog- doesn’t take his pill sometimes...
Pop-Eye   He loves YOU but is very jealous of other people
Wolverine- Heals quickly but too often the claws come out
There are many other super heroes not mentioned above, but these were the ones we thought of together.
               To bring the lesson more to life, I went to our local costume store and purchased about 15 of the hero costumes above and allowed the kids to put them on in the class as we discussed them.   Since my classroom was set up with four or five students at each table,  each group got to decide which super hero name they would have for that month.  Whichever team did the best on homework, classwork, participation, and any other important classroom activities for that month would be taken out to the movies, bowling, miniature golf, or whatever other reasonably priced activity they chose.  This would cost me about 20 or 30 dollars out of my pocket each paycheck, but the resulting improved effort in the classroom was well worth it!   I honestly feel that if we would stop asking the teacher from the previous grade level to look at our rosters, it would give kids a clean slate.     
     Anyway, our students need us to see them as the "Super Hero" they have the potential to be, not the bad person that they think they are or who someone told them that they were or would become.  When given a fair chance, they will amaze us.  They sometimes only need ONE person to
believe in them and their potential.
  P.S. The student who brought the loaded gun to class is now a successful adult and has a great job!

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