Sunday, November 9, 2014

*That* student

We all have *that* student every year (and if you don''re either really lucky or you're in denial *wink*). You know...that kid that just pushes your buttons, grates on your nerves and makes you want to jump out the window.

In my inner city school, we have a lot of kiddos who have really hard lives outside of school. School is often the only stable thing they have in their lives. (Case in point...I got a new girl about three weeks ago. She left early on Halloween and I haven't seen her since. Found out yesterday afternoon, she moved again. My heart aches for that girl and her family who are bouncing from house to house because they can't afford rent or whatever.) A few years ago, I hosted my first student teacher. I was looking through my files the other day and found a reflection she had given me a copy of. We'd just had a lesson from a local group for survivors of cancer. The students filled a bracelet with colored beads based upon the hardships they had endured. My student teacher reflected that she wouldn't have been able to even make a bracelet and these 10-11 year old kids had bracelets full. That's the reality of the kind of kiddos that I teach.

I love teaching them, but it can be very emotionally draining. Very. And I always have at least one student who just gets on my ever-loving nerves. I have to ride them to get anything done, to stay on task, to not annoy other kids, etc. That's the draining part. You want every kid to be a success...but you can only hold their hand so much.

I have several of those kids this year. All boys. (I don't know why my boys tend to be my challenging ones -- sometimes I have girls who are, but most often its my boys who need the extra TLC.) One friend has to sit alone because he just drives everyone crazy. He has ADHD and truly always has to be moving his body. He sits off to the corner by my ELMO area so that if he stands up and dances around (which he does!), he isn't bothering anyone else. 

On Fridays at my school, a class who had good behavior gets to sit at the STAR Cafe at lunch. This is a special table decorated by our volunteer moms, off to the side of the other kiddos. It's a big deal. We won this week and I text my TA and said we won and I would be eating with the kiddos on Friday and she could too if she wanted to. Imagine my utter SHOCK when the boy mentioned above sat next to me. On purpose. I kind of gave him a weird look and teased him, "You sure you want to sit there?" He says, "I flipped [other boy] for it." I almost died. These boys who drive me (and each other!) crazy were flipping coins to decide who got to sit with me at lunch!

These kind of stories remind me why I teach where I do. Yes, they are draining. Yes, they can be irritatingly annoyingly irritating and drive me up the wall....but in the end, they just want to be loved. Loved as they are, loved with all of their flaws, loved as a member of the classroom.

It's these sort of reminders that keep me firmly planted in my district. It's not a perfect place to work (seriously, does such a place exist?), but the kids can't be beat. They captured my heart years ago and have yet to give it back to me.


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