An interesting thing happened mid-way through the day on Friday. At the end of a study group, all the students had filed out but two.
One of the two, a 6th grade girl, approached me and asked if she could talk to the other student, a boy. She has a history of alienating others, so I asked, "What do you want to talk to him about?"
"I want to apologize to him."
(Earlier in the week she had said some hurtful words. I was made aware of the exchange -- it went both ways -- but mostly I had told the boy involved to ignore the girl.)
I called the boy over and mediated the conversation. She apologized to him, and then, surprisingly, he apologized to her for being mean to her -- for the last year and a half! There was an awkward handshake, and he left.
"Who made you do that?" I asked the girl.
"No one," she replied. "I just wanted to do it." A few minutes later, she left too.
* * * *
Seems normal enough, but for this girl, this may have been one of the first times in her life that she had felt remorse and self-initiated an apology. In return, she won an apology, and perhaps laid the groundwork for a future friendship. (The boy too learned how to resolve a long standing conflict.)
This is why I teach. Some students are academically delayed, some are socially delayed. But if we as teachers persist in modeling good citizenship, and we foster it in our students, eventually miracles happen. Not always, but sometimes. And when they do, boy is it sweet.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao-tzu
What are you doing to foster the journey of another? or, Is there a first step in front of you? Be a miracle-worker! or Begin a journey.