I generally like the vast majority of my students. Sometimes it takes a while to get to know some. Some just aren't pleasant, but they usually have a reason.
Everyone once in a while though I just come across one that I don't like.
At the beginning of the year I try to give students a fresh start every day. I try to pretend they didn't say something hateful the day before or refuse to wake up. By about the end of February though I have run out of nice.
This year I had a student I didn't particularly like. He was a tall, good looking, middle class kid. As far as I know he didn't have a reason to be snide, condescending, or irresponsible, but he was. He came in from another teacher about six weeks into the year because of a scheduling snafu. It is amazing how one kid can change the tone of a class, even when there is already twenty six kids in the class. He was one of those rare kids who had the ability to make me feel self conscious while I was teaching.
Suffice it to say we went round and round. Routinely I called roll and he purposely didn't answer. I counted him absent. (Which was cutting off my nose to spite my face. I just had to go make corrections at the end of each six weeks.) One day I was fed up with his snarky interruptions. I mean really if the students are going to disrupt the lesson I prefer them to at least be funny. I kicked him out. (I rarely EVER kick a kid out or send one to their dean.)
By the end of April I had not only run out of nice, I had run out of fake nice, and then patience. I just tried to avoid the kid. Maybe I too became snarky.
I went to my box one morning last week. There were a few thank you notes in there. One of the health teachers requires her students write a letter to their favorite teacher and thank them for what they learned that year. Here are some excerpts:
"Thank you for treating us literally like we are your own kids."
"I appreciate you for being interesting even when you were irrelevant."
"You scream a lot, but you are a lot of fun."
Then I opened on from my snarky student. It was long.
Basically it said that he had learned quite a bit of history this year and he was sure his TAKS scores would reflect that. He said he wanted me to know that I was a good teacher and that he did like me. He explained that we just butted heads because we were both sarcastic. He hoped I had a good summer.
I nearly cried. I felt so terrible. I had looked at this kid and only saw someone who didn't have any obvious excuses for being a pill. I tried for a while to give him a fresh start and then......I gave up on him. I didn't give up on his learning as I always thought he was getting the lesson. I didn't think he was struggling with or worried about his grades. Apparently though he was worried about his scores. He came into my room that day and smiled at me for the first time all year and told me got commended in social studies. I was shocked that he even cared, but he did.
I don't have any ending to this story. I would like to say that I will remember each kid has needs and I will never forget. I would like his note makes up for an entire year of snark, but that would be a lie. I will say though that things are not always what they seem and I am not perfect, but I will try again next year.
Did any of you ever give any of your teachers a hard time? Why? Would could the teacher have done differently?