Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the puzzle piece (follow up to just doesn't fit)

Today I shared a video with my 7th graders. It was about the effects of bullying and the tragedy of those who have taken their lives because of it. When the video finished, you could have heard a pin drop in my classroom....not something that happens very often.
I went on to share two stories of my own. One was of a girl in Jr. High who bullied me. Of course that was back in the day when bullying was mainly whispers and veiled threats...nothing like what kids have to endure in this internet age. I was able to muster the courage to face my bully and she backed away.
The second story was of a boy named Michael...also in Jr. High. It started with what was supposed to be the hairstyle that would finally make me look beautiful...and it went terribly wrong. My mother forced me to go to school anyway and you can imagine what that day became. It didn't take long for me to become the brunt of the jokes before the first bell rang. Each taunt and giggle made me want to crawl into a hole and die. Then he did what no one else cared to do.  Michael simply said a kind word that helped me survive. He became a hero in my eyes that day, so much so that I have never forgotten it. I doubt he ever even knew what an impact he made not just for a day, but for my life.  Two kids, both using words - one to crush and another to heal.
After sharing these stories, I reached over and picked up a puzzle , handing each student a piece. I talked to them as I handed out each one. "You know, I don't know anyone who would willingly go back and relive their Jr. High or High School years. Most of us felt like we didn't fit."
As I talked, I watched each student look at their puzzle piece. I continued..."at times, we all feel like we just don't fit. We don't look like the pictures in the magazines (which to be honest, neither do the people in those pictures), we don't feel as cool as someone else, or as smart, or as ________, you fill in the blank. But each of us is an important part of the puzzle. Without us, the puzzle will have a hole in it; the picture just won't be complete. We may hope to be the colorful piece in the middle, or the corner piece that everything else seems to work off from, but no matter where we fit, we are an important part of the picture...and so are all those around us. Even that person that irritates us to no end - without them, the picture would be incomplete."
I watched my students study their puzzle pieces with new interest. They put their names on the back and tucked them away, some into pockets, some into notebooks, some just held tightly in their hands. The rest of the day I noticed different students checking out their pieces, seeing if perhaps theirs fit with someone elses.
This Friday, we will watch the movie, It's a Wonderful Life and when it's done I will remind my students of their puzzle piece. We will even attempt to put the puzzle together. If some have lost theirs, it will only serve to help them see just how needed each person is. As Clarence says in that movie, "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"
May you realize today just how much you are needed in this crazy puzzle of life....and always remember that even if you haven't yet found your "spot", you fit.....you fit just right.

Jeremiah 1:5 (Message translation) "Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you"

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNFcunYHqPo
Lovers and Liars website: http://www.loversandliars.com/
This pain will pass anti bully website: http://www.thispainwillpass.com/

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