The Tough Stuff

Year: 2

Sometimes, short weeks can be worse weeks, just because even one new factor can drastically shift students’ behavior. As we get farther into the school year, and kids get more comfortable in the classroom, I saw that happen this week.

Monday: I taught my students how to use the school’s “kind notes,” where students write nice notes to other students to raise the atmosphere of positivity in our school. This student wrote to his friend, “Thanks for hooking me up with that good stuff.” A clear drug reference from a student (who had just come back from his suspension that day) who was too careless to realize that I’d read the note. (Kid, really? Don’t be so dumb that you think adults don’t recognize clear drug references. We’re not robots.)

Monday: My friend, a first-year teacher, broke up her first fight. One of the boys was her student, and after she broke up the fight, she spent time defending the student and trying to keep him from being suspended.

Tuesday: One of my students walked slowly past my classroom to the nurse. Later, I found out some kid had shoved him into a metal pole during lunch. He spent the first half of class trying to hold back tears.

Wednesday:  Today, one of my favorite students (yeah, yeah, teachers don’t have favorites, whatever) turned to his friend and started goofing off during the test we were taking. I kicked him out of my classroom for about ten minutes as a consequence. Before letting him back into the classroom, I lectured him a bit about behavior and expectations, and he was so upset. Let me tell you: this is not the worst thing I have to deal with as a teacher. But looking into the face of a student who you care about, lecturing them on proper behavior – especially a student who is usually the sweetest in your class – and who is really upset by how disappointed his teacher is… That’s not a fun way to end the week.

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