Sticky situation

One of my girls is having.....issues (to put it v. mildly) with two other girls at the school. Long to short, Athleta was BFF with one of the other girls, they grew apart, both shared inappropriate secrets, a cafeteria fight was narrowly avoided, and the other two got suspended while mine only got a warning.

The conflicts have continued, and today it came to a head. At lunch, Athleta came into my room looking super upset. I asked if she'd come in to watch a movie (we'd discussed that earlier), and she shook her head. She grabbed her binder and started to head out. "Everything okay?" I queried. She gave me this look that was a mix of horror and deep irritation and stormed out.

For a second I thought about just letting her go - she's really mad at me right now (I wouldn't allow her to speak to me in an extremely disrespectful way on Thursday....yeah, I suck) and I didn't really want to have another conflict. But this seemed more than that.

So amid calls from some of the boys in my room ("Did she just roll her eyes at you?" "She's muggin' you, Miss!" "Dang, what's her deal, muggin' like that?"), I followed. "Athleta!" I called. She was already halfway down the hall but stopped reluctantly and waited. I caught up. "You okay?" But as I said it, I knew she wasn't - her eyes red and her eyeliner smudged halfway down her cheeks, she was anything but okay. I paused. "Honey, what's going on?"

And the story spilled out. The other girls had accused her of calling them names when she hadn't, and now she wasn't allowed to go on a reward field trip, which was unfair because she hadn't done what they'd said and the administrator in charge hadn't listened to her or even given her a chance to tell her side. Her mom was super mad, both at Athleta and the school, and she wasn't sure if she was going to be allowed to finish the year. Everyone hated her and she only had one friend left and she was so sad all the time and so mad too. The tears spilled over again as the words tumbled out, and all I could do was listen.

When she finished, I hugged her (sometimes you have to), and tried to find something to say. I offered to talk to admin with her, offered to talk to her mom with her, offered to take a witness to Athleta's side to the office. But she shook her head to everything; I don't think she could understand, not right then. So I told her we'd talk tomorrow, and I let her go.

I don't know what to do. It's not my fight, I know that, and I don't really want to get involved - administration's a little....touchy right now and I don't need to be on anyone's bad side. But I like this kid a lot, and she's miserable right now. I remember what that feels like, to be a teenager and have all of your friends turn against you and to feel like no one cares, like you don't matter to anyone at all, and I just don't want her to feel like that.

Should I still offer to go to admin with her? Should I talk to her mom (not to tell her what to do, just to make sure she's okay if I'm involved)? Should I just bow out?

Any input would be much appreciated. Because right now, gah.

(Image credit to megyarsh)


Chris Osborne said...

If you know she didn't do it then I really don't see how you can not go talk to people with her. Especially if these other girls get to go on that field trip.

teachin' said...

If I had any first-hand knowledge, I'd definitely go - and honestly, I will anyway, because it's the right (albeit uncomfortable) thing to do. I wasn't there, so I didn't witness anything, making it a little trickier. And the other two girls are already not going on the field trip due to their previous suspensions. Which I think is part of the problem, that they have nothing left to lose and just want to get my kid in more trouble. Sigh.

Rachel said...

Hm, that is a tough call. Not that I'm saying this girl is, but I have known too many kids to lie when they get in trouble with something. I'm sure admins have seen it too, which means if you don't have first hand witness knowledge, they might just think you're getting the wool pulled over your eyes. I think it might be worth encouraging her to speak to her guidance counselor (ours were great and actually DID something), at the very least to deal with those feelings of loneliness and sadness.

Are there any other teachers you think would vouch for her? Maybe if a couple of you came together and said, "I really think she's telling the truth here..."

I'm not sure. Wish I could offer more. Good luck!

"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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