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Monday, December 1, 2008

You can be a leader too

"Carlos", I said making eye contact with him. "Necisitiamos tu en el groupo."

Carlos turned his head down and started to descend from the cement post he had climbed. This post had been a challenge for everyone not to climb, play or rest on. In this beautiful open airy space covered by a palm tree leaves, the cement post were the only ‘walls’ to lean against, an environment that allowed for little room to hide.

Carlos had been having a hard time focusing all morning. I had already spoken to him once about following directions.

"Carlos." I said again firmly. He was joking around, not being a part of his group and trying to get some other kids to play around as well. "Ok Carlos, I have asked you twice. " This means you sit out for a bit because you are not following the rules. Do you know what rule you have broken?" He shook his head and looked down" "Mantenemos nuestras manos y pies junto a nosotros (We keep our hands and feet to ourselves) y Tratamos a los dem·s y a nuestro ambiente con respecto (We treat others and our environment with respect).

"If you choose not to follow your class rules, than you cannot be in the class today. I asked him to think if there were any other rules he had broken, and when he would come back to the group how he would change his behavior. He didn't say anything, but seemed relieved to get to sit out for a bit.

After about 3 minutes I invited him back to the group. He smiled and looked down and shook his head no. "No, you don't want to come back", I asked, "You may not stay there and not participate Carlos, you would have to go see Hermana Tita" Then he agreed to come back in. At this point, it was nearly lunchtime, thankfully his time out of the lesson was helpful and his behavior was calmer.

Than at lunch, I spoke with Tita about the situation with Carlos. She and I called Carlos over and spoke with him about his behavior in class. He seemed very sad and embarrassed. He told us what rules he had broken. Then Tita spoke to him and then me. We told him how important he was, how important it was for him to be in class and respect the teachers, his classmates and himself and we told him how important it was for him to learn. I thought he was going to cry. Then Tita said to me, would you pray for him? Oh wow, here we go I thought... I have not been one to pray out loud for people. I wasn’t raised praying out load like that, but I had remembered what Nathan told me. "Speak a blessing" So I did just that. I don’t remember what I said but I remember I felt grateful to be asked to give him a blessing. I also remember how Carlos looked. He was so reverent. I wondered what he was thinking. We told him that this was the last chance. If he broke the rules again, he would have to spend the rest of the lessons with Hermana Tita. Then I gave him a hug and shook his hand and told him how excited I was to have him stay in class.

After lunch we went back to class. We had been learning all week about the different forms of water and exploring how we could move like water. I put Carlos in a leadership roll helping his group to review the group dance we had learned earlier. Then as they worked on their individual group movements (His group was the iceberg. Their job was to dance like ice cubes into the center of their group circle and form an iceberg that would then melt from the sun.), Carlos decided to be the sun. His movement was the catalyst for his classmates melting’ to the floor and then rising like vapor into the sky. He was so committed to this movement, helping his classmates. His classmates in return supported him by following his direction and not giving him a hard time when he got a bit ahead with the timing. They made it work, all together!

When we brought together all the works the dancers had created for the performance, I needed to put some students in the front that really knew the group dance. I watched the students to see whom really had the movement memorized. Ashley, yes definitely, Ronaldo of course, but wait, Carlos! He had improved so much. I was impressed at how much his behavior had changed and helped him learn! I brought him closer to the front, also away from any students likely to want to chat with him. How much his face lit up, I will never forget!

For the rest of my time there with the kids, Carlos was always looking to hold my hand or give me a hug when he saw me. Hermana Gina, Hermana Gina and he would point to a chair for me to come and sit with him at meals. Hermana Gina, Hermana Gina and he would hold out his hand to me.

How amazing this little boy is. So amazing of a change I saw in him from being given opportunity. Maybe it was the opportunity to experience following the rules, hearing the empowering voice of Tita setting consequences, holding my hand or spending time away from home. I will never know what the exact reason was. But in my heart I know that it was the art of being acknowledged, for creating and being apart of something beautiful, making choices and experiencing success. This is the power of the creative arts this is the power of Hope.

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