Category Archives: The Classroom


bullies 1“Who is this student’s mother? Where is she?” A large man with a deep voice yelled. “I need to speak with her now.”

Claire knew that no matter what  that man was angry about, her son, Roger,  was the target of his rage, and that his mother; ME, was the person he was searching for. She would have loved to run away and hide but her sweet, fair-haired son, Roger, was approaching and the red-faced, enraged father was grasping him by his collar. Claire breathed deeply, aware that other mothers were holding their children’s hands, relieved that their little darlings were not the culprits. “I’m his mother,”  Claire managed to say before the tirade began. “What’s wrong with your son?” the father yelled. “I was walking  along, holding my daughter’s hand and chatting to her when your aggressive son came out of nowhere and hit her without provocation. What’s the matter with him? Do you and your husband or boyfriend beat him up?” Claire glanced at her son who was wearing that now familiar expression of sheepishness and defiance while the angry father was probably waiting for me, his mother, to get my Roger to apologize. BUT,  I knew that it was not  going to happen. I blurted out ”I’m so sorry. I will talk to my child,” and looked into my son’s eyes wondering for the 100th time what was wrong with him and what made him hit other students?” I was angry too, because I was no longer an ordinary mother. I was the mother of The Bully, a title I’ve lived with for years. When my toddler  was barely three years old, my girlfriend’s husband said that my darling child had intimidated their son and was too rough. Then I was asked  to remove him from the playgroup because he’d boxed a child there and was no longer welcome. After that, angry mothers, raging fathers and tearful schoolchildren came to complain. I sought the help of a therapist and did my best to implement what I’d learned there. To no avail. As Roger grew older, there were less complaints.

One day, soon after my younger son had started  school, he came home sobbing. “What happened?” I asked. “He, he, he took my lollipop.” “Who did?” “The big boy.” “Did you simply give it to him?” “Yes.”  “Why?” “He said I had to.” And Claire felt  more relieved than she had felt her whole life. Her younger son, the Bully’s brother, was now the victim. She and her husband had one son who was a bully and the other, a victim.

Both boys came from the same parents and lived in the same house so, how could they have produced two sons so different?

Can anyone explain this phenomena?






A teacher worth remembering

Engineers want their children to become engineers while doctors want their children to follow in their footsteps and study medicine. The businessman dreams of his child becoming a CEO but teachers don’t necessarily want their children to teach. “The sad truth is that teaching is not a favored profession,” said the youngest woman present. Then she continued. “I say this as I am a teacher and know what a difference a good teacher can make in the life of a child.”

The CEO asked; “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who feels that his/her best option in life to to become a teacher?” To stress his point, he asked the teacher what kind of a salary she brings home every month. She paused for a second then continued without giving him a direct reply.

“I make students work harder than they thought they could. I make a weak student feel like a Medal of Honor winner. I get my students to sit through forty minutes of class time while their parents can’t make them sit still for five minutes without their eyes being glued to an iPod, an iPad, an iPhone or television. And you want to know how much I make?” She paused again, turned to look at the other people sitting aroun the table, then continued. “I make my students wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize and mean it. I teach them to have respect and to take responsibility for their actions. I teach them how to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn’t everything. I make them read and read and read. I work with them until they all understand math. I teach them to use their brains instead of calculators. When I teach English as a second language, I teach the children what they need to know about it while preserving their unique cultural identities. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. And finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they will succeed in life.” This young teacher paused one last time then added; “When people judge me by how much money I make each month, I hold my head high and pay no attention because I feel that those who ask that question are ignorant. I make a difference in your children’s lives by educating them and preparing them to become CEO’S, doctors and engineers. How much do you make every month Mr. CEO?” His jaw dropped and he was silent. 


dinner table guests





Friendships Count

stigma1A new anti-stigma campaign aims to teach youths about mental illness. Written by Diane Smith in the

Fort Worth – Layne Lynch sat at her piano inspired by an unusual  feeling. A tune soon emerged. It was followed by lyrics. Click to watch this clip:

This song, Dear Friend of Mine, is asking teens to be understanding to classmates, friends and siblings struggling with mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder. It was inspired by a family member’s experience with a mood disorder. “It’s so cool to see people realize that it is OK to get help,” Lynch said.

The song is part of Friendships Count, a new anti-stigma campaign produced by the Mental Health Connection and Community Solutions of Fort Worth. Mental Health Connection is a collaboration of area mental health professionals, consumers (the name people with a mental illness prefer to be called) and other advocates who want to improve their mental health delivery system.

Their campaign takes the message of empathy to teens via a website and a music clip posted on YouTube. It also includes bookmarks and posters that will be distributed at schools.

Defining mental disorders and how they affect teens, can help reduce the stigma associated with illnesses.

Even though people are more comfortable discussing mental disorders today, many people still don’t understand why they shouldn’t label others as unstable or crazy; rather, a chronic disease just like diabetes. Once a teen is diagnosed, therapies and treatments can work.

We all know that peer pressure and hormones make the teen years difficult, and adults may have a hard time understanding why their kids feel sad or too scared to go to school. BUT, friends and relatives can make a difference. Parents learn that ‘It’s not bad parenting that caused this.

Share a little act of kindness

People's handsWally Lamb wrote: “It’s the most breathtakingly ironic thing about living: the fact that we are all alone. Singular. And yet, what we seek, what saves us, is our connection to others.”

Share a smile or friendly greeting with someone on the street

It’ll bring a ray of sunshine to a person you might meet.

Share a little act of kindness that could brighten up their day

It could bring a spark of courage to one who’s lost his way.

You’ll feel much better for it and it won’t cost a single dime.

It could make a world of difference to share a minute of your time.


Don’t label them. They’ll find their own labels

In our world, we tend to label everything but the worst is labeling people, especially children. This video brings it home far better than any explanation I could give.

Click on the link below and see for yourselves:

When sadness becomes a daily occurrence

depressed childHow do parents know if their child’s sadness is a part of regular growing up or a sign of something more serious? I think we all know what it is like to feel down sometimes. Well teenagers have their ups and downs too and every parent thinks that it could be a problem at school, a boyfriend or girlfriend issue, a family problem or even the death of a grandparent, which is acceptable. But if it continues for over two weeks, most parents realize that it needs to be looked into.

I only heard about this when we were in the ‘mental illness’ cycle. Apparently, many young people experience real depression and anxiety disorders at some time or another. If they are simply going through a difficult time, it will no doubt pass but if this period does not pass, it should not be neglected. By listening to parents speaking, we learned about some warning signs.

If a teenager becomes aggressive suddenly and provokes fights; if he has such bad anxiety attacks that he has difficulty breathing; if he/she is unable to make simple decisions and there is a change in his/her concentration levels, it needs to be checked out. If there is a change in his/her eating habits; complaints of stomach pains and headaches; a sudden weight loss or complaints of being worthless, he/she needs help. If that teenager’s sleeping patterns change and he/she withdraws from a previously active social life, it is advisable to seek help.

I was told that if the problem is dealt with as soon as possible, it is not too late to be of help. Of course that teenager could be taking drugs which is a different issue altogether that needs to be checked out.

From my experience of running a support group, depression can make one feel pretty desperate.

Different attitudes to life

The Taj Mahal I asked a group of students to list the Seven Wonders of the World and this is what most of them wrote: The Pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Panama Canal and the Empire State Building. Only one student was still busy writing when the rest of the group had completed their lists so I asked her whether she needed assistance. “Not really,” she replied. “I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there are so many.” “Tell us what you came up with,” I prodded.  She hesitated for a moment then started reading. “I think that the Seven Wonders of the World are:

To see    to hear     to taste     to touch     to feel     to love and to laugh