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Groundhog Day

Students will push your buttons, get on your last nerves, and ruin your day. But each morning you must wipe the slate clean to provide every child with a fresh start.

In the 1993 comedy classic Groundhog Day, Bill Murray (Phil) relives the same day (Groundhog Day) over and over until he gets it perfect. The scene depicted in the clip above showcases Phil doing everything he can to give others the best day possible.

At this point in the movie Phil believes that he is cursed to relive Groundhog Day for all of eternity. Despite his grim acknowledgement of the situation, he is determined to help others. Knowing that the people of Punxsutawney will inevitably get themselves in the same trouble tomorrow does not prevent Phil from doing what is right.

As a middle school principal I am highly aware that adolescents have limited control over their behaviors and actions. In fact, if you ask any middle school educator why they love middle school, the most common response is because every day is different. Even though the majority of middle school teachers and administrators is acutely aware of the highs and lows of a middle school student, sometimes they have a hard time giving every child a fresh start each day.

Adding to the problem is the fact that middle schoolers lack self-awareness about the ping-pong nature of their emotions. When a teacher fails to provide a student with a fresh start it creates confusion, frustration, resentment, and anger in a student because they do not understand that the teacher is incorporating yesterday’s events into today’s treatment of them.

On the flip-side, if a student recognizes that an educator is willing to overlook their past behaviors each day, he is far more likely to form a strong relationship with that adult. Adolescents deal with an extraordinary amount of anxiety naturally. Removing the “will my teacher treat me differently because I acted like a jerk yesterday?” worry takes an unbelievable amount of stress off a child and allows them to be themselves.

Kids are going to make mistakes. Mistakes are an integral part of the learning process. Don’t hold those mistakes against them. Mirror Phil’s mindset and strive to provide each student with the perfect day. Even if everyday feels like Groundhog Dog, it may turnout to be your new favorite holiday.

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