Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 23 2011

So I had to come back

Yesterday, I held my class for a few minutes into recess, because they’d been chatty and I still needed to close my lesson when the bell rang. (To be fair, the chattiness could have been prevented. My lesson was WAY too hard for half the kids and WAY too easy for the other half, and I hadn’t expected that and was not prepared. That means no one was really learning, and that always equals chattiness. Oops.)

One kid kept telling me he had to go to the bathroom, and I told him he could go at lunch and then started ignoring him. (I thought he was just trying to get out of class, and I really just needed two more minutes!) Then he started cussing loudly (“F*** this, this is f***ing ridiculous, I have to f***ing pee and shouldn’t have to sit in this f***ing class”) in a progressively louder voice until he knew I could hear him, and then stormed out of class to the bathroom.

Whoa. Bad news bears.

This kid is known as a huge behavior problem and has a heartbreaking life story, but he was switched into my group of kids just for math (they normally travel together all day) because he and I work well together and he’s too smart for the class with no teacher. I’ve never seen the infamous side of him, and I was pretty devastated that I was no longer being protected from it.

But before I even had time to deal with it, he was back. He apologized and said he’d just really had to go to the bathroom. Then he said, “Normally, I would have gone to recess. Most of the time, I just leave. But you, you’re a good teacher. So I had to come back.”

Whether this is a win or a fail depends on where you focus. On the one hand, I had a kid cuss loudly and then storm out of class. On the other hand, that quote happened. I’ll let you judge it, since I can’t stop going back and forth.

4 Responses

  1. Amelia1

    I think that counts as a win! I’ve been noticing that one of the hardest things to explain to kids in the population I work with (mostly gang-involved..) is the concept, essentially, of code-switching; that bursting into vulgarity in the middle of a classroom/professional setting is just.. something you’re not supposed to do!

    I liked this take on the issue from another corps member:

  2. Beaver

    definitely a win! behavior is all relative–not to give the “bad” kids more attention at the expense of the “good” kids, but kids come from a variety of backgrounds and abilities. what works for one kid (or most kids) sometimes doesn’t work for everyone. obviously, this type of situation is not ideal, but little-by-little we can build on the acts of mutual repect kids show us in situations like this.

    P.S. thank you. unnecessaryquotes has become my work life for that past several days. i love you.

  3. Lucas

    I agree, this is definitely a win for you. Obviously, it is regrettable that he felt like he needed to curse a blue streak and storm out, but apparently he also honestly needed to go to the bathroom, and I might get pretty angry too under the circumstances. I think it is important to remember that what makes young people easy to manage, direct, and control is not what makes them uniquely human, and open to inspiration. It would be really easy to design a class to display perfect behavior at all times, but it would be composed of robots, not people. The chaos and vulgarity are not your fault, but he came back entirely because of you, and I think you ought to cherish that victory.

  4. Forgiveness | mathinaz linked to this post.

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