I’ve recently had to have two very difficult moral conversations with individual students. I needed time to digest the incidents leading up to the conversations, and the conversations themselves, but am now ready to share and explore my thoughts…
A few weeks ago, on a Friday, a co-worker came up to me and told me that she needed to discuss something that happened with my students, which was setting them a bit on edge. Great, I thought to myself, Bring it on. See, this class is wonderful, energetic, charismatic, and out-going, but they are a little different than my previous classes. This class is a little more worldly, has had some bullying issues, and developed a very difficult reputation last year because they seriously clashed with one of their teachers. I’ve been approaching the year as a “great and successful” one…but some days its more difficult than others.
Finally, the co-worker and I were able to find 5 quiet minutes in my classroom for her to tell me that she heard through a student that Darling told a group of girls that she had…let’s just say done something very…advanced…with a boy (again, I teach 8th graders…and yes, we’re talking something more serious than kiss). Wow, I replied. I thanked her for letting me know and told her I’d figure out a way to handle it.
My principal (who is fabulous) always tells me how she hates Friday afternoons, basically because that is when the sh** hits the fan (my words, not hers), and it is really difficult to resolve anything because it’s Friday afternoon and everyone is heading out to the weekend. My co-worker and I talked at about 2:50 on a Friday. My principal is very wise.
I finally find my principal after dismissal and say to her “You know how you love Friday afternoons?” Her: “Yeah…” Me: “Well, can we sit and chat for a minute?” Her: “With that intro, I don’t think I want too.” As I think to myself…no, you definitely don’t want to, but come on now.
So we sit, and I tell her the whole saga. about Darling. Long story short, we have to figure out if it is for real, or if it was just said for attention. She tells me I have to call Darling’s mother. Gee, thanks! Just what I always wanted to do: tell a mother that her daughter perhaps isn’t as innocent as one would like to think her daughter is. Thankfully, mom didn’t attack me and we both agreed that we’re here to help Darling and we need to figure out what is going on and why this was said. I hung up feeling much better than I had felt as I was dialing, which I considered to be a success.
Monday finally pulls around and Darling comes up to my desk, wanting to talk to me. We set a lunch date. I’m hoping against hope that she wants to talk to me about something related to school. No luck. “So Darling, you said you wanted to talk to me…what’s on your mind?” “Well, I know that you talked to my mom on Friday…” Ahh yes, so we ARE going to have that talk.
What resulted was actually a very nice conversation, where we were both open (well, appropriately open considering she is a student and I am a teacher) and had a mature discussion on what was going on. I learned some background information, and she learned that perhaps I’m not as antiquated as they make me out to seem. I also learned that she, mom, AND DAD, had a pretty difficult, but open conversation over the weekend. Dad cried (which I think pretty much sums up WHATEVER could have been said in the conversation).
So this basically left me thinking…HMMM. Darling is struggling for whatever reason which a lack of self-confidence and a need to prove herself around boys. Need to think of ways to do handle this and support her in making life choices. And part of me was thinking that she would perhaps need a little different presentation than what I normally do regarding boys, choices, chastity, and sex. But as I’ve been observing her in class, things seem to be okay. I don’t hear her making immodest comments, etc.
And then? Then, this past Friday occurred…