Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 11 2012

Small Victories

I have been fighting tooth and nail to get this kid to serve his detentions. He has football practice after school and a shaky home life, and had it in his head from Day 1 that detention wasn’t for him.


The first detention he skipped, I went through all the standard consequences. He was unfazed. He skipped again. We got his family in for meetings and tried a couple strategies to convince him detention was important. He skipped again. Next, my principal found him after school and tried to bring him to detention, and he just said NO, turned, walked away from the principal, and went home. Then his last period teacher escorted him up to his next detention, and the kid walked out as soon as the teacher turned away.


I had a 45-minute phone call with his mother, where I convinced her that her son needs structure and limits and consequences for his actions. I gave more intense parenting advice than I’ve ever given (remember when I used to be scared to do that?) and she was crying and thanking me and we were best friends by the end of the call. That meant that next time he skipped detention, she turned him around and sent him back to school. He was half an hour late, but at least he sat for a little of it.


Finally, I convinced Mom to give me his football coach’s phone number. I had a nice chat with the coach, who was more than helpful. I love football coaches because they always put character and academics over practice, and they aren’t afraid to get in boys’ faces and make them do the same. Coach gave me his cell number and directions to the field where they practice, so I could show up if he skipped detention again. Delighted, I informed the kid of my new connection.


He showed up to detention today. Came right on time and stayed for the whole thing. :-)

One Response

  1. Ms. Math

    totally works! the basketball coach was a math teacher at my old school. I couldn’t believe how much kids cared what he thought about them.

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