The last few days reminded me why I love teaching, especially middle school....
I have this student, in which I will name him Matt, that is angry at the world right now. He recently found out that he would be repeating the eighth grade. Ever since he found out, he has become very difficult to deal with. Not only is he a pain to me, but he has even been treating his friends bad. Today, I had had enough.
Currently, my class is working in teams on a huge project. Matt's team is nearly done; yet Matt has not contributed much. The boys on his team got in an argument over Matt's lack of effort during class, which led to me finally having to ask Matt to step outside. Matt stepped outside, alright, tight lipped and arms crossed. He was on the defense, ready to take whatever I was about to dish out. I think he was taken off guard with our conversation.
I said, "Matt, I know why you are acting the way you are. You are mad about being held back. And because you are mad, you are taking it out on everyone around you. Well, you know what? I can handle it, but you are going to end up losing your friends if something does not change." He responded with, "Well, they wanted me to do the Math part of that project, and I can not do Math. " Later I discovered that he had a fear of Math. He was told (in Math) he was stupid. He told me that he would never amount to anything but a shrimpper because that is what his father was. He also told me that he wanted drop out of school because he would never be able to learn. He and I went back and forth about 5 times with me telling him that he is not stupid and him responding with, 'yes I am.' After a lot of talking ,I discovered that not only had his parents told him he was stupid, but a teacher had told him that, as well. He had grown to believe this statement as true. After a lot of talking, the last piece of advice I gave him was: "Matt, you have a choice. Either you can believe what your teacher told you was true, and accept it as fact. She wins. Or you can use her statement as fuel to your fire, and prove her wrong. You win! It is your choice." He said nothing, just walked back in the room.
The next day (today), he came into my room with his head held high and smile on his face. With excitement in his voice, he said, "Let's do this Math thing, Ms. Petty. I got this!" I guess I got through to him. He and I sat until after the bell rang, finishing his project together. It reminded me why I love what I am doing.
But shortly after, my day came crumbling down. About two hours later I found out that one of my students that had been recruited to play basketball at Faith did not get in because she failed her OLSAT for the second time. This was suppose to be her ticket out of the Bayou. It would have meant opportunity for her. The test was this morning, but the proctor already told her that she failed it. She returned to school with her head hanging low and her eyes puffy. My heart broke for her.
Directly after I had recieved a text saying she had failed her test, Macy sent me a text saying that her cancer was back, and she would need to start a new chemo today. What do you say to that?
I know the Lord is in all of this, but He feels so distant. I pray the Lord provide new opportunites for my student and health for my best friend.