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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

hi why you not at school

I think it worked.

I have been gone for two days.

It has been total radio silence.

Neither of my CT teachers contacted me.

The department chair and my neighbors were equally mute.

I didn't hear from the guest teacher or the office professional who arranges coverage for absences.

There were no frantic emails from the principal.

In fact, I got only one email and it made my day.

One of my, shall we say, more challenging young men sent this email.

He is an awesome kid who I really enjoy.

He is also ID with major documented anger issues.

Mostly, he is just really really really sensitive to tone.

If he detects even a hint of aggressiveness or feels at all outed to the class, he completely flips his lid.

I have not witnessed any extreme versions of this. 

But I have seen him get defensive, grumpy, rude.

I have seen him ask to use his crisis pass and stomp off to work in isolation.

When I saw his email, I opened it with trepidation.
Here is what it said:

"hi why you not at school"

And that was all.

Let's ignore the obvious grammatical concerns here.

There are, at least, no spelling errors.

It caught me off guard because I know he was present when I talked to the class on Friday.

I took a deep fortifying breath and responded:

"Tyrone, I am at a conference today presenting to other teachers. I thought I told you Friday I would not be there today or tomorrow. Hope you had a good day and made some interesting lists. 


Dr. Riina"

Then I waited.

For what, I am not totally sure.

I was half afraid I would receive an angry rant in response.

I was half afraid he wouldn't respond at all.

Instead, I got a totally awesome response:

"yeah she a really cool sub she layed back."

That doesn't sound like much.

But you don't know this kid.

I couldn't have been more pleased.

Maybe if he said it rained lollipops or something.

This kid is my harshest critic.

Really, he is every adult's harshest critic.

So being "really cool" and "layed back" is a BIG deal.

Now I don't know yet if he did any work.

I don't know if anyone did any work.

That is still merely hopeful until tomorrow.

For now, this little email exchange gives me significant piece of mind.

I may return tomorrow to find the work undone.

I may find my room a bit of a mess.

But I won't find a bunch of angry, accusatory teenagers who feel abandoned and betrayed.

(They're dramatic--overreaction is in their DNA.)

A good attitude goes a long way towards a good day.

This may turn out to be a very good thing.

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