How to be a student: Part I

On Wednesday at lunch, I had a student working in my room. He was one of mine before the change, but no more. A few weeks back, though, I offered to help him bring his grades up so he'd be eligible for basketball and he took me up on it. I was delighted, because he's a really sweet kid, but not much of a student.

Since then, Sweet Child o' Mine's been coming in every day at lunch to work. Which sounds great....but since I have ten or so other kids who come in just to hang out, and since he's super easily distracted, the work has gone slooooooooooowly.

But Thursday was the end of the trimester, and thus homeboy's last chance to finish this particular paper and avoid failing for the tri. Which I pointed out to him, and suggested he come after school to finish. He agreed, and trotted merrily off at the end of lunch.

After school came. SCoM came in with a friend who'd left his backpack in my room. I pointed out to SCoM that he was supposed to be writing, so he left his backpack and ran out to tell his mom he'd be home later, and then came back in to finish his paper. Which he did really a pretty solid job on, considering how much time he spends messing around in class rather than actually doing any work.

Except. That second part never happened. In fact, nothing after leaving his backpack happened. He just never came back. And, oh, was I pissed.

Thursday he trotted in to say hi. I told him we'd talk at lunch. He looked confused. I pointed to the backpack and asked him why it was still here. "Ohhhhh....I forgot to come back in."

"Yep. We'll talk later."

At lunch, I laid it out for him. I'd been working hard to help him, but I didn't see much return. He couldn't even be bothered to come back in to tell me he was leaving - why should I trust him? Why should I stand up for him to other teachers? Why should I have any faith in him at all?

SCoM looked crestfallen. He apologized profusely; he'd gotten out there and the gym teacher had challenged him to a game of one-on-one, and afterward he'd just forgotten and walked home. He was really sorry, he really appreciated the help I'd been giving him, he'd work hard today and would come after school too.

Okay, I shrugged. His choice. Show or don't, it was his call.

He showed. He worked. He got his paper done, and did a pretty damn good job on it, for him. And I couldn't understand why this was so hard. Why DC struggled so much last year to finish his classwork. Why so many of them just don't do the bare minimum of things that we as teachers expect. And then I realized something....

Which I will explain tomorrow.


Ricochet said...

Ah, not fair!!

I'm reading this thinking I am going to get some BRILLIANT insight that will help me with my own and you expect me to have the PATIENCE to wait until tomorrow???


teachin' said...

:) Well, I don't know that I'm offering any great insight, but Part II is up (this post was supposed to post yesterday...I'm not sure what happened).

"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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