Many of you know that my class this year is MUCH more challenging than my class last year--there's not a bad kid in the bunch, but they're just more talkative and harder to keep focused.
Today, we had our debates for class president. As it happens, we have both a boy and a girl candidate (nominated and voted on by their classmates, of course). When the "primaries" were over and I announced the two candidates, I tried to stress that at that point in the election process, the students shouldn't even have an IDEA of who they were going to vote for, until the candidates gave their speeches to announce their platforms (included proposals: having free time on Friday if they get their work done all week and a "reversal" of my current toy policy--"Whe Miss K. takes a toy away, instead of it going in her filing cabinet till the end of the year, I think that she should give it back to us at the end of the DAY!" That one drew a lot of cheers), selected their vice-presidential running mates and had their debate. There are students, based on the amount of "button-making" as soon as the primaries were over, who backed a particular candidate right from the start simply because so-and-so is "their best friend EVER", but I'm really trying to teach them the importance of determining what a candidate stands for and who will most accurately "represent" them, just like in real life.
For today's debate, I presented the top 5 questions from those submitted by the class (incentive to come up with a really good question: a homework pass). At the end of the debate, I gave each candidate one minute to summarize their "platforms" and have a final shot at capturing the "undecideds" in the room. S., our female candidate, went first. Then C. spoke. He, like S., summarized the changes he would make why he thought he should be elected. Then, just when I thought he'd finished, he said, "And Miss K, can I just say one more thing to the class?" When I gave him the go-ahead, he took a deep breath, stared down at his shoes, and said (the following is not word for word, but it's as close as I can get and accurately reflects the heart of his speech):
"I just want to say that I really hope this election doesn't turn into a boys vs. girls thing and that you vote for the person that you really think would do the best job [ed. note: there are more boys than girls in the class, who a battle of the sexes actually would have been to his advantage]. I mean, if you think I'd be the best president, then okay. That's cool. But I know that some of the guys in the class were gonna vote for me just 'cuz I'm a boy and, um, I just wanted to say that I don't want that. I wouldn't want to win that way anyway, you know? It wouldn't be right. So, um, yeah. I just wanted to say that. Vote for the person you really think would do the best job and stuff...okay." He looked up at me. "That's all."
The room fell silent as everyone absorbed what he had just said. And then, a voice broke the silence:
"Miss. K, are you CRYING?!?!"
"Pfft," I said, trying to look indignant. "No. Of course not. But I do want to say that what C. just said--"
And here my voice broke as I looked up at the ceiling tiles and grabbed a tissue and tried to compose myself, while a whisper of "Dude, she's totally crying" swept the room--
"--I mean, I just think that he showed a lot of character. [Dabbed eyes with tissue] I mean, let's face it, if all the boys DID vote for him just because he's a boy, then he would win [Sniff/Eye Dab]....but he's telling you that he doesn't WANT you to do that, [Voice Crack/Eye Dab] and it's okay for you to vote for S. if you're a boy and for a girl to vote for him, if you think that person would do a better job. [Eye Dab/Sniffle] And, I'm just very proud of BOTH candidates for running such a clean campaign. Never once did they talk badly about each other or try to hurt the other person's campaign [Eye Dab] and, yeah, I'm just so proud of you guys right now. [Eye Dab/Sniffle/Voice Crack/Deep Breath] So let's give them a round of applause." [Applause] "And MAN, these allergies are HORRIBLE! There must be a lot of dust in here or something! Whew!" To which the class erupted with:
"You were TOTALLY CRYING!!"
And this is when I deftly changed the subject by announcing that it was time to pack up and go home.
....(But yeah. I WAS totally crying.)