Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Broken Heart

Today was a rough day at the after school program. When I arrive at the school, I go around and shake hands, hug, high five every single 4th and 5th grader. I believe that the power of the "touch" is incredible. I know that many of my students do not get this at home so I make sure that I do this every time I see them. Well, it seemed like things were going to go well today, but that soon changed. No sooner than we made it to the room to begin the study hour did one student start in with the problems. This students has been talked about frequently in my blog- one of the boys who gave me a very, very difficult time at the beginning of the year, saying he did not want to be in my class and he hated coming to school because he wanted to be with the other teacher...remember now? Well, this kid has occupied a special place in my heart...he is as sweet as pie and acts out in incredible ways because he is starving for attention. His home life is horrid and whether negative or positive, he'll take what he can get.

Well, he is actually in the other 5th grade room for homework hour but today he kept getting up and coming into my room. The rule is that you stay in your room unless you have permission to leave, which he clearly broke. While in my room, he was bothering another student. When he was asked to stop, he refused. He then replied to the student he was bothering "Shut up or I'll stab you in the eye with a pencil". I think it is pretty obvious that this kind of talk is not okay. Threats are not tolerated by any means in our school so I had to write him up. I felt bad afterward because this was his second write up, which means he is suspended for a day from the program.

I say I felt bad because I feel like he is always punished for things beyond his control- his home life. He cannot deal with the fact that he is one of 9 kids all living in the same home with a mom who has other priorities that often bump her children down on the list. He battles for attention at home and he comes to school and feels like he has to do the same thing. I know he had to be dealt the consequence that came with making a threat, but my heart aches for him because I know he is crying for help. I just don't know what I can do to help and make a difference. I do all I can to encourage his positive behavior, build confidence in his academic abilities and what he has to offer the world as a beautiful person. Since I cannot go in and wave my magic wand in his home and make things better, what other options do I have?


  1. Oh my gosh, this is almost exactly the same situation that I have with, really 3 of my students.
    I kknow their homelife is terrible, and I know that the principal even feels bad for all 3 of their home situations, but. . .they need consequences.
    I think every day, that as their special ed. teacher, I am going to try to do someting to help them not get a bad start in their gen. ed. class, but then. . .
    they do something disrespectful or harmful that I have to do something about!!
    I'll keep trying to think of things that you and I both can do. Thank you so much for posting this!

  2. Thanks, Sandy! This is really a challenging issue. In my methods classes, we have talked about how it is important to be empathetic to the situations that are students face, while still holding them accountable in the classroom to learn and behave appropriately. However, if I am empathetic then I understand that this kids faces incredible obstacles in his life everyday that I know I would struggle to get through.

    I feel like we have to help them to navigate between two different worlds- the one at home and the one at school. When they are at home, it may be okay to deal with a situation in that way but at school, it is totally unacceptable. It is unfortunate that students must juggle between them, but that seems to be the only way for them to do well in the classroom. I cannot change what happens at home, but I can help them to understand the expectations at school and give them various strategies they will need to meet those expectations.

  3. You said it very well, again. I made a mistake in my comment. I meant that I want to help my students get a better start to their day, not a BAD start!!!

  4. Thanks Sandy! By the way, you're post was said you want to help them "not" get a bad start in the gen ed. class. All is well! :)