Health Update: I was able to take two longer walks than usual this week, while visiting a friend in the hospital and one in a retirement center.
While teaching 6th graders in school, I always wanted my classroom to be a safe learning environment. There were a few years that the students seemed intent on using words to hurt their peers. So, one day, I took an empty Coke can to class. I showed them how every time they used words to hurt their classmates it was like putting a dent in the can. After a few examples, the can was quite scarred. Then I explained that when they realized that person could help them with work, a project, or a competition they would soon regret their words.
I had them practice saying encouraging words. Each time a student’s words were kind, they were allowed to try to get the dents out of the can. Even though some of the marks would even out, the scarring remained. From that day on, if someone spoke negatively about another student either the offended person or someone else who heard the comment would simply say “Coke can”. Then the student who made the comment had to stand and say three positive statements about the person they had offended. After one student had to perform the exercise several times, he commented, “I do this a lot don’t I”. When his classmates agreed, there was a noticeable change for the better. Within a few weeks, there were very few times we needed to stop and take care of a situation.
The teacher next door and I noticed that the kids were even saying “Coke can” at their lockers and telling students, who weren’t even in my classes, what they needed to say to make the situation right. I did have a fellow teacher tease me because in the middle of her lesson a student stood and said 3 nice things about another student. She was amazed, though, since those kids didn’t have a reputation of getting along very well.
May our words be gifts of encouragement to the people we speak to this week.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”