Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coming out of the Bloset

Paul Bogush, middle school social studies teacher and all around great blogger, recently wrote a blog with lots of ideas, encouraging those who are new bloggers to "come out of the bloset," using one of the ideas to write their own blog.  Well, I am not a new blogger but I will take ideas anywhere I can get them.  So here's to Paul.

"Should one kid be sacrificed, for the greater good of the class…"

One of the things that makes teaching so rewarding and so difficult for me is the idea that I am there to save each child.  Not save from life and death, but save from boredom, from apathy, from failure, from neglect.  I truly believe this.  It doesn't make my job very easy but it does make it more important.  The truly difficult part is that, often the children that need saving the most, are the ones we want to save the least.  They are the noisy ones, the messy ones, the nasty ones, the disrespectful ones, the clingy ones.  They are the ones who talk back when we try to help them with social skills. The ones who refuse to do work, no matter how hard we try to motivate them.  The ones who always have difficulty working with their classmates, no matter how many times we intervene.  They are the students we agonize over when we go home, the ones we dream about at night, sure that we are failing, the one we cry about to our loved ones.

Often, when times are tough, when I am at the end of my rope, when I am tired of meeting with parents, school personnel, and the administration about this one difficult child, I think, "Perhaps it is time to let go.  I don't have to live with him/her.  I don't have to raise him/her.  I don't ever have to see this child again."  I think about the other children who might struggle to work with this child in a group.  I think about the other teachers who complain constantly about this child.  I think about my family, who suffers when all I can talk about is this one child.  And, yes, I consider the sacrifice.  It would be better for all if I just let the child be.  Don't waste my time anymore.  Let him/her do whatever he/she wants.  Don't force the child into a group with classmates.  Don't force the child to do school work.  Don't force the parents to come to terms with the reality of their child.

Then I remember why I do what I do.  And I realize that the other students are not going to be harmed learning to deal with someone difficult to deal with.  It's part of life.  And I realize that I am not going to have a nervous breakdown dealing with more meetings over this child.  It's part of my job.  And I realize that this child needs me the most.  I might give up on the parents, not pushing so hard to get them to see the reality.  But I won't give up on the student.  I will spend time before school working on homework.  I will send emails at night.  I will find any positive I can to compliment this child, letting him/her know that someone recognizes him/her as good.  

I haven't been disappointed yet.  I often find I do well with those students no one else can handle.  I guess maybe they trust me not to give up on them.  And, in the words of Robert Frost, "that has made all the difference."

'Quittin' Time'
'Playground grafitti'


Kathleen said...

Lisa, You have hit on the most challenging part of our job. I try to do everything you mentioned in your blog, mostly I'm successful, but sometimes I'm not. But even when I feel like I have failed, I know that I have tried. My advice to student teachers has always been, you don't have to like every child, but they must always "know" you like/ appreciate them for who they are. Thank you for your post.

GilMattos said...

Great post indeed.I must confess I have a lot to learn about this area although I have improved a lot. I guess it's a lot easier to do the wrong thing (I now realize) and simply let go of those who demand more effort.
Thank you for the lesson!
Regards from Franca-SP-Brazil

Cinda said...

Ahhh, yes, teaching. The art and science. And, yes, the love. Thank you for writing this!