Blog Archive

Friday, March 18, 2016

Speaking of misguided twaddle.

Today was an exceptionally good day. A day full of good things. 

One of the boys I wrote about a few days showed up a full hour before school to complete a project for his English class. Score.

The 9th grade principal stopped me in the hall and we had a super productive, though brief, conversation about discipline and professional development. In ten minutes, we had the kernel of an idea for the next PD day, a plan for getting the key players together, and a common vision of some key elements that need to be addressed. Double Score.

My student teacher reported that one of our students who has been a concern has consistently been completing his work and behaving appropriately. I also got a report that he has served assigned detentions without complaint. Serious Score.

A child with a 4% in my class spent the afternoon with me. Let's call this young lady Angie. Angie has struggled throughout the year. She frequently misses class, needs a lot of individual attention, gets so stuck in her feelings she can't function, and shuts down at the first hint of challenge.

Yesterday, Angie and I had a long conversation. She owns her choices. And intellectually she understands that the world doesn't revolve around her needs...and in the same breath she is back to "but I need..." 

She kept telling me her teachers think she is smart, but she isn't smart. That, by the way, is utter and complete nonsense. Angie is very bright, insightful, and has better than average literacy skills. 

Initially, I tried to tell her that. She wasn't trying to hear it. She considers statements of her intelligence as misguided twaddle. 

According to Angie, we only think she is smart because she went to a private middle school. Speaking of misguided twaddle.
I started to push it and she started crying. Literally crying tears of frustrated disbelief as she continued to tell me she wasn't smart.

A change of tactic was obviously in order. We started back to circling the drain of why she was doing so badly in all her classes and why it was her teachers' fault. As we talked, I started casually pointing out specific things she said that were especially self-aware or insightful that might make her teachers think she was "smart."

We made no concrete progress. The most positive thing I can say is she started smiling when I pointed out how intelligent she sounds instead of crying and denying.

In the end, I invited her to sit in the copy center with me during my class instead of being the classroom with my student teacher the next day. I didn't think she really would show up and work--maybe show up to get out of class, but not to work.

But she did. She showed up and she worked. She needed very little help and genuinely impressed the beegeezus out of another teacher who was sharing our table.

Somehow she convinced her administrator to give her permission to stay with me for most of the rest of the afternoon. Partly, I suspect, because all her grades are so bad, and partly, I suspect, because he also recognizes that her crisis of confidence is profoundly debilitating.  Anything we can do to begin to address that issue will likely have a positive impact on the academic and social concerns.

This counts as a score too. 

Today was a really good thing all on its own.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? Does this good thing remind you of a story of your own? Have a question or comment? Please leave a comment!