Mar 5, 2010

The Ying and Yang of Teaching: 1

For the past several weeks, I've been working at a new high school. It's a very different environment from the high school I've been at during the past four years. This school is very small, and has a rather relaxed attitude towards managing the student body.

What remains the same is that I still get immediately invested in seeing my students do well. There is also a wide-range of academic ability and interest among the students.

There are four students that I absolutely enjoy working with, because they are in a headspace that makes them available for learning.

Today, I had to spend the entire school day with one student that has written off the whole learning thing. In fact, when we first met in January, and I brought class assignments, he looked at me with a smirk and said, "Didn't they tell you that I don't do work?" To which I said, "Oh really, well that's not going to work with me."

He has been fighting me all along, and it's been a struggle. Today, while he was confined to one room, due to an in-school suspension, I made that boy work. He showed a level of ability and potential. I acknowledged this to him and encouraged him to keep trying to get back into his studies.

The fantasy in my head is that our day together will become a turning point for him. Then, I snapped myself out of Oprah mode, and realized I need to be ready to see him roaming the hallways and cutting class on Monday.

What I do know for sure, is that when I see him I will urge him to go to class, and I will always have a stack of class assignments ready to engage his mind. I will not be another adult that threw their hands up in surrender when it came to him.


Renee said...

Even if he cuts up on Monday at least he can think back on the day last week when someone gave a damn about him getting something productive done. Maybe it'll stick after he sits down and thinks about it...once he takes a break from challenging everyone in authority that he meets. Good-luck on Monday ;-)

lelocolon said...

There are more yangs in teaching that yings, I love to challenge and be challenge by my students. Without them I will not exist

Kyle said...

Allan, you are a brave man. Stan had to deal with this kind of situation quite a bit when he was teaching high school science for all those years. Teaching is never an exact science, it is more of an art form. You never know how things will go. Some actions seem to heal, others seem to agitate, and on another person it works the reverse. You never know what will motivate someone or what will close them off.

The important thing is that even if he doesn't take your advice, he has someone in his life, who cared enough to try to do something for him. Even if it doesn't take now, it might be enough to change something for him later in life. I know it is a small consolation, but we live in a very imperfect, broken world, one that places very little importance on universal education.

Here's hoping for good things.:)