Sunday, September 7, 2014

That One Kid Who May Drive Me to Drink!

We just finished the third week of school, and the teachers and students are already tired of the routine/rat race. In many ways, this year is going to be a LONG one.

My schedule for my last year of teaching is great: 3 dual-enrolled English composition classes and 2 classes of general senior English. I have taught the subjects before, and I kind of know what I'm doing. Also, not being in charge of the yearbook is a huge stress reliever. I thought I was going to be able to coast this year without having any problems.

As usual, something/someone threw a wrench in the wheel. Many of these problems are shared by all the rest of the faculty and staff (lack of working technology, angry parents, crowded classrooms), but some are mine alone to bear. I'm really fortunate to teach at a wonderful old school with fantastic faculty and truly remarkable students. I genuinely love most of my days there, and I know that I'll miss everything when I retire next year; however, I've got to get through this year first.

I have some really well-behaved, smart kids. The majority of them have a plan for their future and want to graduate in May so they can get started on being an adult. A few, however, have not matured past age 14, but I can usually handle these kids. These immature ones are most often boys who are just trying to get attention. After they get their role established as the comic in the room, we move on.

Sometimes the girls have drama or emotional issues involving friends or boyfriends, and frankly, I ignore it. I know they are in pain, but the cynical part of me realizes that their pain is short lived because of their age. I usually refer them to guidance.

Throughout my 34 years teaching, I haven't had many really bad/evil kids with whom I couldn't establish a working relationship. When I notice these kids, I always try to find out what's going on with them by asking other teachers, by looking at the cumulative folder or by simply talking to the students to establish rapport.

This year, my last year, I have this one kid who makes me think that my days will not be pleasant during  that class period. She is rude, disrespectful and just generally nasty. My husband describes people like her as being full of puss. She has no filter, so everything she thinks, she says, and that statement is usually followed by an eye roll with a tongue click and a flip of her hair.

Personally, I look at this child and can't understand how she's gotten this far without a huge school discipline file or physical scars. She must have had a lot of negative reinforcement to have such an attitude. The event that sent me over the edge was her saying that I was wrong in my observation of something that happened in my classroom -- like I was old and didn't know what was going on.

Ok, I'm old, but I still know what goes on most of the time in my classroom. I still have eyes on everything/everyone and can still hear whispers. I’m not in an old-age fog, yet.

Yesterday, I decided that this child is my challenge for the year. I started by asking her former teachers about behavior patterns and contacting administration to have a conference with both of us. I decided that I WILL get through to this child; I may be public education's last attempt at saving society from her wrath. I’m determined!

I’ll handle her the way I do most people who are nasty: kill them with kindness. My mother’s saying of “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” will be my mantra. I may have to double my meds, pray for patience before that class and start drinking every afternoon, but I will do it. Wish me luck!

Whenever I get down about teaching or students, I like to find funny quotes or cartoons that relate to the teaching profession -- the ones that make me say AMEN! Here are some that my fellow teachers will understand.