A Walk-by Kicking
At Macdonald Consolidated School we held two middle school assemblies per week. The music room was just large enough to accommodate all six classes. In September, we covered (reviewed) how assemblies were to be carried out; ie, behaviour expectations, how to treat guest speakers, proper ways to ask questions, etc. Once the students understood how to assemble, we offered a variety of topics/opportunities throughout the year: conflict resolution, playground expectations, student council items, guest speakers, etc. We even had the occasional karaoke assembly. The assemblies proved to be a valuable part of our middle school atmosphere.
Side-note: During my career I have attended many high school assemblies. Often one would hear teachers complain about the behaviour of students in that setting. As a teacher, I would occasionally suggest that perhaps we should actually teach them how to assemble first. It was assumed that assembly behaviour was inherent knowledge. That is not the case. Just like any other skill/expectation, students (and many staff) need to be taught.
At the end of one particular assembly, I was standing off to the side watching the students exit the room. I noticed as a grade 7 boy, on the opposite side of the room, kicked one of his classmates as he walked by. The kickee remained seated as the kicker left the room. I approached the fellow who was kicked and ask him to remain for a few minutes.
“I notice Mike kicked you as he walked by. Why did he do that?”
“What happened just before he kicked you?”
“Nothing at all. It was just a walk-by kicking.”
“Yeah. I suppose”
It was lunchtime and I proceeded to the cafeteria. Mike wasn’t there. For those who were not purchasing a meal we used a classroom as a lunchroom. I found Mike there and asked him to join me in the hallway.
“I noticed you kicked Colin when you were leaving the music room.”
“Yeah, he called me a dick-head.”
“You kicked him because he called you a dick-head? Really? Did he do anything else?”
“No. He just called me a dick-head.”
“We don’t kick people in this school. That is not an appropriate response, particularly to being called a name.”
“Yes it is.”
“No it isn’t.” I then went on to explain the different acceptable options he had. But he was quite insistent that kicking was an appropriate response to being called dick-head. I decided to try a different approach.
“Come with me.” We then walked to the next classroom. Rob Turgeon, one of our grade 7 teachers, was seated at his desk. He was alone in the room. I asked if Mike and I could enter. Keep in mind that Rob had no idea what had transpired up until this point.
“Sorry to bother you Mr. Turgeon.” I then looked at Mike and said, “Now watch this.”
I turned to Rob and said, “Mr. Turgeon, you are a dick-head.”
I wish I had a photograph of the look on Rob’s face. It was a combination of bewilderment, confusion and uncertainty. After several seconds he responded, “I am sorry you feel the need to call me that, Mr. Caines.”
I then turned to Mike and said, “SEE. Mr. Turgeon didn’t come over and kick me. He expressed his disappointment by using words. THAT is an appropriate response to being call ‘dick-head’.” I think Mike finally got the message.
I later explained to Rob exactly what had gone on. I also thanked him for not kicking me.
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