September 4, 2010

When a conversation really does help:

After my last post, I spent the entire evening frustrated about what that student had said about me and our class. I know I promised myself I wouldn't do that anymore--allow a ten year old to get to me, and bring my emotions home to ruminate on like that--but I couldn't help it.  It wasn't the behavior that was bugging me, it was that one comment about the seating arrangement.  I had kind of a, "How dare he?" complex about it...

Anyways, I pulled him into the classroom a little early in the morning and we had a long, calm talk.  And it was actually really positive.  I told him, in true Love & Logic form, "This is your chance to let me know what you're having a problem with and what you don't like in the classroom.  I can't promise I can change everything, but I can explain some things, and hopefully we can come up with a solution to others."  And we actually did come up with a few ideas.  I explained to him that I placed him with the kids at his team because I value his leadership skills.  Sure enough, the rest of the day he was stepping up and helping the kids at his team, even going above and beyond in math to help the boy at his table who constantly struggles.  It was beautiful.

I was SHOCKED though at one piece of information he shared with me during our conversation.  I sensed that he had a complex that I was a "mean teacher" before the year even started, and now I found out why.  It turned out that one of the quiet, just slides by with bare minimum but doesn't cause any trouble, kids from last year told him that I was "really mean to [student] last year," referring to my behavior problem student who constantly had melt downs and needed to be escorted to the office on a daily basis.  My jaw DROPPED.  I cannot believe it that that student is STILL following me around causing me problems, unintentional or not!

I explained some of the things that that student had done in class on a regular basis (throwing things, bullying kids, yelling and screaming, laying on the floor and not working, and talking back), and calmly explained that while I liked him and cared about him, there are consequences for any student who chooses to behave that way.  My goodness.  I never thought I would have to explain why there are consequences for incredibly disruptive, defiant behavior!!!

Anyways, it was a good day with this student after that talk.  Which goes to show you, while it might feel silly to talk to a ten year old like they're an adult, sometimes it really works.  Some kids just need to be shown that you value their opinions and see them as a real person with real things to say.  I'm sure our differences are not settled, but at least we are off to a better start to the year!

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