Today, I gave it a try.
I held up a $5 bill and said, "someone is getting $5 today" instantly, my class of grade 8's perked up.
I asked, "who wants this $5?" all their hands went up excited, a couple seemed weary. I promised someone would leave class with the $5 bill in my hand. But first, I had to show them something important.
Then, I scrunched the $5 bill into a ball in my hands and asked, "who wants this $5 bill now?" Still, hands flew up.
I nodded, threw the $5 bill onto the ground, still crumpled into a ball and I stepped on it. I twisted my foot onto the $5 bill tattering it's edges and flattening it.
"This $5 bill is now dirty, crumpled, damaged.... anyone still want it?" of course, the hands STILL went up. "Why?" I asked. One boy said, "because it is still valuable, it is still $5"
I told them that sometimes life throws us curves, sometimes we are thrown on the ground, crumpled and feeling worthless, but that we are all valued and loved and that our true friends and family will always love us even when the going gets tough. I mimicked some of the sentiments from the story I heard this from:
Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.The same boy who pointed out the $5 was still valuable crumpled or not asked, "Why tell us this now?"
We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you.
The worth of our lives comes not in what we do, who we know or a price tag but by WHO WE ARE. You are special-Don’t EVER forget it!!
I told them that middle school is tough! Highschool can be tough too! There have been and will be good days and bad days, and we can't always control that. I told them that I can't promise things will always go how you want, but I can promise you that no matter what, you can overcome the bad because the good is worth it!
After some further discussion, I gave the $5 to one of my students, hoping the message was delivered. I also explained I had read about this story but that they used a $20 or $100 bill. I told them I didn't carry that kind of cash on me, but that $5 told the same story!
Later that day, my next class came in and they were a buzz with the news I had given out $5 to the previous class, "Word in the twittersphere is you have some money to give out today?" [No they hadn't tweeted it, but it had been a hot topic at recess apparently]
I was glad the money news had spread, but even more impressed that the story's message had spread.
At lunch a few students came to talk to me more about the story. "I never thought of it that way" and "It's true, bad moods don't mean I am a bad person, everyone has bad days" were among comments I heard from students from the two classes.
I just hope the message sticks... I hope that one day, when one of them is going through something tough, they remember they are loved and they are valued. I hope they remember the day their teacher gave out $5
If so, it was the best $10 I ever spent!