Friday, April 5, 2013


Yesterday I did something that I'm embarrassed to admit.  A student got to me.  I kicked him out of class and to make matters worse I told him to not come back.  What provoked this response from me?  Laziness.

It really bothers me when I see students not working, but yet I work SO HARD for them.  I will meet them 75% of the way if they'll just make it the other 25%.  But from this students, I'm not even getting 1% anymore and let's face it, that's heartbreaking.

Here's what happened:

I see this student twice a day.  Once during homeroom for remediation and again during 7th period for regular class.  During homeroom he completed 2 multiple choice problems in 30 minutes.  I had to constantly remind him to get to work and at the end of the 30 minute period I let him know that my expectations for him were higher.
Then during 7th period he comes into class and puts his head down right away.  I don't give him much trouble during class, I just nicely remind him of his duties as a student.  But when I handed out the exit ticket and he quickly circles three answers and hands in the paper, I lost it.  I would tell you word for word what we each said, but that's irrelevant.  What is relevant is that I lost my cool and now it will be that much harder to help this student who obviously needs help.  Perhaps I'm not entirely qualified to help him (I don't know his story).
So now I'm concerned that he may not show up to class today because it a fit of rage I told him to not come back.

This kid totally ruined my day.  I thought about him after school on my commute home.  I thought about him at the dinner table.  I thought about him while playing with my kids.  I thought about him before I fell asleep.  I thought about him the moment I woke up in the next morning.  I thought about him on my commute to work.  And I was miserable.

I'm in the wrong here.  I'm the adult.  I have no idea what his home life is like.  Maybe he was tired that day because he was up all night hearing his parents fight.  Maybe he was tired because he was up all night because of a crying younger sibling.  Maybe he had to work late last night because he helps support his family financially.  I don't know.  But I do know this.  There's got to be a better way.

A few hours later....
So the kid comes into class and is a perfect angel.  He is cooperative, attentive, and participates.  WTH?!?!?!?  Is this what works?!?!  I have to lose my cool and have my ENTIRE day ruined so that a student will cooperate?  I don't get it.  Why doesn't nice work?


  1. I was in the same situation a few weeks ago. I hate losing my cool, and I try my hardest not to, but what do we do with students that just refuse to try? Sorry your day got ruined, just remember that for that 1, there are so many more that we do reach.

  2. I can't imagine any teacher who has not experienced what you've described here. I think it's important that kids see us as human beings too, that we have feelings of anger and frustration like everyone else. Normally when I lose my cool, I give myself a 24-hour window (to calm down) and try to talk to the student and the whole class (if they witnessed the incident) about what happened. I think kids need to know how much time we spend crafting a lesson, how much care we put into it, and how much we care about THEM succeeding -- and that's why it hurts when they don't seem to put forth the effort to just meet you 25% of the way as you say.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Unyielding patience is hard. Still, we must try to be professional. We have all lost our cool.

  4. I think it's healthy for kids to know that even teachers have a limit to their patience. No, we don't want to lose our cool, but we are human, too.