The high school principal where I work approached me one day and said, “You know that you’re the only one who can successfully manage that class, right?”
I knew he was referring to Heizi, a 15-year-old bully, who once carried a case of beer to a self-study class and drank it in front of the whole class!
Heizi’s homeroom teacher was recently hospitalized, and no one was willing to fill in for him until his return.
I stood there in a bit of a dilemma. If I did choose to manage the class, I knew it would involve putting in more personal time. If I didn’t manage the class, I felt that I was no different than a regular, ordinary person.
Since I did feel responsible for helping Heizi turn his life around, I decided to accept the principal’s offer. He patted my shoulder and said, “I know you will do well. Thanks!”
The principal knows that I am a Falun Dafa practitioner, thus he regularly assigns me tasks that other teachers would prefer not to do.
When I became Heizi’s homeroom teacher, I spent a lot of time working with him. I had to keep reminding myself that he was inherently good, thus I needed to be both compassionate and tolerant towards him.
During one family visit, I met his father, a building contractor. He told me that everyone in my school used to consider him a “hero” because he used his fists to keep the rowdier students in line.
He admitted that although he often beats Heizi with sticks and whips, he didn’t think it had had any detrimental effect on his son’s behavior.
When I was about to leave, he said, “If you manage to keep Heizi out of jail, I will consider the time you spent with him a success.”
Since Falun Dafa taught me that virtually everyone has a good side, I began to focus on Heizi’s strong points. Whenever I saw him behaving well, I openly praised him, encouraging him to do even better.
One day, I assigned him the task of disciplining the entire class—as a way of learning to discipline himself. To my surprise, his classmates became quieter and more studious.
I did, however, receive some complaints that Heizi had beaten a few classmates for violating certain rules.
When I talked to him in private, I first confirmed that he was right to discipline students who had broken the rules. Then, I taught him how to use kind words instead of clenched fists to persuade people.
Some teachers reported that he would often yell at his classmates: “Shut up and listen to the teacher!” They joked with me, “Are you sure a rogue can discipline a class?”
Once I saw him playing basketball after the recess bell had rung. “Hurry up!” I kindly urged him. “Your class has already begun.”
He told me that he was reluctant to return to class because he couldn’t understand what his instructor was teaching. He seemed very frustrated.
“You have a duty to your family and to society,” I said. “You can waste your youth, or you can strive for a better life in the future. The choice is yours.”
He put the ball down and began walking to class. He appeared to be considering my words.
Heizi and several other students with poor grades often asked me if they could go outside and play ball instead of attending self-study classes. If they had been behaving particularly well, I occasionally accommodated their request.
Of course, dealing with Heizi was no walk in the park. He disobeyed me, intentionally did things to annoy me, and often argued with me.
Being a Dafa practitioner, I reminded myself that he was still a child and that his bad behavior couldn’t affect me. However, I knew that my compassion would eventually change him!
Since Master Li (the founder of Falun Dafa) is compassionate towards His students and always encourages us, I felt compelled to treat Heizi and his friends in a similar manner.
In time, I noticed that Heizi was better able to control his emotions and was less bossy and domineering. He still smoked cigarettes in school, but at least he had begun doing so in an empty bathroom stall instead of smoking in front of the other students.
I often told him stories from ancient Chinese culture in the hopes that he would become increasingly aware of other people’s feeling, care more about his parents, and develop an altruistic feeling towards others. He really liked the stories and sometimes sighed, “Teacher, why are you so kind to me?”
It was comments like this from Heizi that made me want to become more tolerant, compassionate, selfless, and less focused on my own personal gain and fame.
Other teachers tried to encourage me: “Just hang in there for two more months. They’ll all be graduating then!” However, I was more concerned about the future lives of these rebellious students than I was about myself. I wanted do my best so that I didn’t have any regrets later on.
The day before the semester had ended, Heizi came up to me during a self-study class and asked to talk to me in private. We walked to the end of the corridor where he handed me a bottle of spring water and shyly said “Teacher, do you know who I respect the most in my life? It is you.”
“Respect me for what?” I asked. “I’m still struggling to discipline you.”
He looked down at the floor and continued. “Teacher, I respect you because you truly care about me. You’ve never beaten me or cursed at me.”
Then he lowered his voice and asked, “Teacher, are you a Falun Dafa practitioner?” He quickly explained that he knew that Falun Dafa is good, and that its practitioners are good people, and that they are different from others.
“Am I right?” he kindly asked. I told him, “Yes, your hunch is correct.”
Although I am not totally satisfied with Heizi’s behaviour, I have no regrets. I believe that he is on the right track now and is sure to do much better in the future!