hard lessons

one of the hardest things to admit about working with kids is the fact–the reality–that you can’t reach all kids–which is one really good reason why we need a lot of good and different teachers, youth workers, counselors, etc–because someone probably can reach them, even if you can’t…

this past semester has been one of the most difficult semester’s i’ve experienced since becoming a high school teacher…there are a handful of kids who are really causing problems in class, and ultimately, interfering and blocking other students’ ability to learn…

you might think that because i teach elective courses…that all of the students in my classes would want to be there and want to learn–not true…and it is hard to believe, i mean, i teach criminal justice…the subject matter is interesting and fun to learn about, right?!  i would’ve loved to have had the chance to take a class like that in high school…but, some kids still don’t want to be there or participate…it blows my mind?!  and, in addition to the quiet non-compliant ones, you get kids who ‘want to be bad’ or ‘take an attitude’–and take as many other kids down with them as they can…which has been more often the case this semester…

this kind of thing is exhausting and it’s what a lot of teachers are up against each and every day…most people don’t have the faintest idea about what kind of energy it takes to do this kind of work (the worst detractors have called our occupation ‘part-time employment’–such a statement tells you more about the person making that kind of comment than the realities of teaching in american public schools)…i worked construction for a couple of years and the only occupation that is as tiring as that–is teaching…and it’s the student behaviors that take their toll–i spend more than half of my time each day motivating, persuading, re-directing, confronting, reminding, pushing/pulling, disciplining, and herding students re: appropriate classroom behaviors–then, once i’ve got ’em where i want ’em–wham, i teach ’em!!!🙂 granted, i work in an alternative environment…but, not all my kids have been ‘in trouble’ or ‘at risk’…

anyways, this is all to say that…because of the state of things this semester i’ve had to have 2 kids permanently removed (and not to be back next semester), with another group “on deck” for the same treatment…this is a big deal…to permanently kick a kid out of class–and it is something that is not done lightly…because if it happens enough, a kid can end up being permenantly kicked out of school–and for the kid, for society–we want to keep kids in school until they graduate, as much as we can (don’t believe me, spend a few hours looking over the research on juvenile delinquency in the u.s.–there is a strong correlation between not having a high school diploma and criminality)…

a lot of time, energy, and behavioral strategies have gone into the last four months (including a few sleepless nights)–incidents, consequences, ‘encouragements’, one-on-one conversations, and home contacts have all led up to this moment (at the same time, i haven’t been giving my time, energy and attention to the students who are doing what they’re supposed to be doing–which, of course, is the majority of my kids)…so, as much as i hate to admit it…i have to acknowledge that i just can’t reach these few troubled ones–i’m not getting through, didn’t even make a dent…

i hope there’s someone out there that can…

4 responses

  1. Don’t get discouraged! I taught in several “urban” settings (including a juvenile justice facility) and “You may be getting through to some of your students that–trouble you”!
    If you would like to learn more about teaching/educational reform — you may want to sample/purchase my books @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman
    Also, I think you may benefit by visiting/following my blog @ http://kennethfetterman.wordpress.com
    I have one post in particular (on my blog) that may be of some benefit (i.e. Adapting Instructional Mechanisms to Accommodate Students with Special Needs). Best Wishes–keep making a difference–KEN


    • kenneth,

      thank you for your comments, i took a brief look at your profile/blog and it looks like you’ve got a lot of good stuff on education/teaching (looks like we might have some things in common as well)–i will definitely take some time to look at it further…you might have an answer i don’t have…at the same time, this ain’t my first rodeo…and the reality, the fact of the matter is–one teacher can’t do it all–which is one of the many reasons why i love my colleagues–because they might be able to relate to or connect with–or reach a student, i can’t…and that is encouraging…

      thanks for the encouragement…good luck to you as well!



  2. thanks for sharing Dett and thank you for your time and energy that you devote to teaching. sometimes we make a dent with out knowing it. it might not be the dent you were looking for but it might just be the dent that will eventually have an impact on that kid down the road, even if it is tiny, it is something.
    not everyone cares but you sure showed them that you do!
    your students are lucky to have you as their teacher, Dett!


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