Students will be more apt to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of someone who is different or unknown to them, such as a new student.
Inquiry: Show the photograph on page 36, and read That New Kid.
Questions for discussion:
1. Why do you think someone in today’s presentation was so quick to give this poem a title like, “The Bully” or “The Mean Kid”?
The expression on the face of the boy in the foreground is serious, or even taken as being mean.
2. Have you ever had a serious, or mean-looking expression on your face? Does that prove that you are a bully, or a mean person?
3. Let’s say, for a moment, that the boy is definitely not a bully ...well then, what kinds of things might cause him to have such an expression on his face?
Perhaps he isn’t feeling well, or he has something serious about home on his mind ...or maybe, he just doesn’t like getting his picture taken! (Do you?)
Have students bring up other possible reasons.
4. When we think of all those possible reasons, is is fair to judge him as a bully? When would it be fair to judge him as being a bully?
When his actions toward others show that he is - not just because someone has heard that he is, or because someone thinks he might look like a bully.
Additional thoughts from the author ...
Ahhh, one of my very favorites! When I show this young man’s photograph during performances of The 8 O’Clock Bell, it never fails; someone always calls out titles for the poem that are “bully-related”. But, you should know that when I saw this picture for the first time, I did the very same thing! And then I realized what a great story this picture makes, because none of us have any way of knowing what this boy was really like. He may have been a “straight A” student! Or, he could have been the nicest kid in school - but the silent image in the photo can never share with us the truth.
How can we find the truth? - we have to do our best to get to know the “inside” person each of us really is ... and to do that, we have to communicate with each other - like talking with each other and listening to each other.
And so, since none of us ever had the chance to see this boy’s actions for ourselves, and since we never had the chance to personally talk with him, I like to say that the author of this poem was wrong! Why? Just read again for yourself the number of times I wrote lines that have absolutely no proof behind them!