Sometimes you have to fight for a cause you believe in.

As a teacher, I attend a lot of meetings. PLC meetings to plan instruction or to grade. Grade-level meetings about 8th grade issues. Faculty meetings. IEP meetings. Student behavior meetings. Evaluation meetings. They never seem to end, and I never seem to have enough time to attend all the required meetings and do all my other work too. And yet, yesterday I volunteered to go to an extra meeting on Monday, one at which my attendance might be considered less a standard part of my job....and more a declaration of war.

I mentioned yesterday that I'm going to this meeting because the student involved asked me to be there. Specifically, it's the Antagonizer. His current Language Arts teacher kicked him out of class this week, for the entire week, and told the whole class that she was doing it because he didn't want them to learn, he just wanted to distract them all and hold them back.

Now, I of all people know how incredibly obnoxious the Antagonizer can be. He is truly gifted at getting under people's skin - it's actually pretty remarkable, from sort of an anthropological perspective, when you're not the one he's harassing. So I can sympathize there.

But I also know that he's still a child, and that he's capable of trying and learning, and that
he'll do it if he believes that the teacher actually gives a crap about his education. And I know that his current teacher speaks to students (and sometimes adults) more rudely than any other teacher I have ever met, and I know that you shouldn't talk about kids that way to their peers.

So I'm going to this meeting, even though the teacher will probably take it as a personal affront and will react accordingly. I'm going because this kid deserves better - because all her kids deserve better - and because in the end, my job is to promote my students' achievement. I might not have the Antagonizer in class anymore, but he's still my student and I still care about his success, and I can testify to his ability to achieve that success in a different setting.

She fired the first shot. It might not have been aimed at me, but it grazed me nonetheless, because I can't just walk away from a kid whose educational opportunities are draining out of him more and more each day. I'm in. Scared, but in.

(Image credit to yngvarda)


Joan said...

Good for you! That kid needs someone on his side. Good luck!

Left Coasting said...

I suggest that it could be very important -- and useful! -- for you to make an extra effort to sit down with the other teacher involved first, so that nothing you say in the meeting is a surprise to her, or feels like sandbagging, or (to use your war metaphor) an attack from the rear, or friendly fire.

It might not succeed, but it's worth the effort. And it helps defend you: other teachers will learn that you tried to reach out to your colleague. It will make a difference long-term on trust and relationship.

It might even be worth a home-phone call today, if the schedule tomorrow makes it impossible to do before the meeting.

Theresa Milstein said...

What an awkward situation to be in! Good luck.

I agree with Left Coasting that talking to the teacher first may be the best way to handle it. If you say the student asked you to be there, it will probably diffuse bad feelings on her end. Maybe by the time meeting happens, you'll both have a plan that the student will consider adhering to.

teachin' said...

Thanks, all - it probably is a good idea to contact the other teacher first. I don't have her home number so I emailed her, just to let her know that I'll be there to be able to talk about the Antagonizer's behavior in my class and some of the strategies that he and I came up with to help both of us. I figure that's not too threatening and is the truth. I won't be able to see her tomorrow before the meeting probably, as the meeting is before school, so this will have to do.

"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
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