Thursday, April 02, 2009

Students With Issues

My algebra 1 preAP class started out horribly 2 days ago. It's the first period of the day, and as I'm herding kids in, I notice one girl with big sunglasses on. I asked her to please take them off. She ignored me. I waited to see what she would do before asking again about 30 seconds later. Again with the nonanswer. The bell has rung now. I don't want to make a big issue of it, but I can't ignore it and have any credibility with my students. She's a touchy, edgy kid I've gently butted heads with before. I stand right in front of her and ask her again. She refuses. I ask her to step outside and that I will talk with her in a bit. I start my kids on checking their homework, and go outside.

No she does not want to take them off. No she won't tell me why.
"I don't want to."
"Not the issue," I reply.
"I don't want people to look at me"
I can sort of see through the glasses and nothing seems to be wrong. This goes on for a few seconds. I indicate that now she has taken it to the next level. She's directly disobeying me, and if she continues to keep them on, I'll have to send her to the AP. I tell her I'll give her 3 minutes to decide and go back inside.

All the time while I'm teaching my other 20-some kids my mind is racing:
-ackh. I hate calling the office
-what's the office number?
-what's the procedure?
-how long will it take to fill out the paperwork and what a waste of instructional time.
-take OFF your glasses for the love of pete and just come inside
-heyyyyy, her bag and her beloved cell phone are still in the room.
-maybe I'll just let her sit out there all period.
-ackh I hate this.

She never decided to come in, and I never sent her to the AP. I like to deal with my own discipline problems whenever possible unless they're skipping or doing harmful things. The 1.5 hour class ended. I felt bad. I called her mom and left a message. Her mom called me later because the girl had texted her. Apparently, they'd had a HUGE fight that morning about my class and her mom wanted her to get tutoring and the girl is all frustrated because she's not used to not getting concepts immediately, and she's struggling this year. So I'm guessing the girl had red eyes from crying and didn't want to attract notice. Can you have just TOLD me that somehow! I'm so glad I didn't send her to the office.

Then later I sent home an e-mail about a calculus student who I haven't seen in a bit. His attendance has been spotty, and I'm worried about his grades and AP exam outcome. My class is the only class he has on campus one day, and it's at the end of the day. My cynical mind is thinking he's just finding it hard to make it back from the community college.

Hmph to me and my cynicism. Apparently, he's had this soap opera existence for the last little while, his mom wrote me. People and animals have died lately, and she's been gone a lot, and he's been sick tons, and and and. Today I saw him, and on the positive side, he's very smart, so he can quickly catch up.

A 3rd student has had horrible attendance in another 1st period class of the day. Starting around Thanksgiving she's been gone more than she's been here. Another teacher gave me the heads up that she was going through some personal issues. On one of the days I saw the girl (who I like), I asked if she was okay and did she have someone to talk to. She did. But then again with the hit and miss attendance. Today I saw the other teacher again and said I was worried about the girl and did she know if she was okay. Okay, TMI time. The teacher told me what was going on. Ahhhhhhh. But still. Come to class, don't fail. You're too smart. And now I have this other knowledge running around in my head.

Then there's the kids I know of who have moved out or have been kicked out of home. There's the super poor ones that have to ride the bus 2 hours each way to come to school. There are the ones that go on crying jags during advisory.

I'm sending out big hugs to all of them for just continuing to plug away and *mostly* take care of business.


  1. This is SO where I am right now, too. One keeps saying things that HAVE to be reported to his guidance counselor, but his parents aren't recognizing he needs help, no matter who tells them. One dropped out after I'd invested 2 1/2 years teaching him basic math. Today, I learned another one, who has only come to school 15 or so days this semester, had to present himself at the courthouse after school today to fulfill the warrant out on him. He will be in juvenile until mid-May.

    And I am NOT in a socioeconomically high-risk community, though I am the special ed math teacher.

    Sigh. I need a success story soon, for motivation's sake!

  2. Anonymous11:18 PM

    Breaks your heart, doesn't it. Think how much of a difference you must be making to kids like these - and give yourself a pat on the back.

  3. Anonymous4:28 AM

    Holy Cow, Adrienne, sounds like a ton of turmoil. Hopefully, you're due for some happy outcomes soon.

    And thank you, Anonymous.

    Ms. Cookie

  4. Anonymous9:50 AM

    It does break your heart. I agree -- give yourself a pat on the back and consider this a virtual hug. Wow.


  5. I am totally with you on ALL of your feelings. I'm only a first year teacher, but it's great to know I'm not the only one going through these types of issues. How did everything turn out?

  6. When a principal told me that students have a right to put their heads down and sleep, I got out of the public school teaching game. I was turned into a babysitter. I teach now at a college. I can't even imagine how I handled all that nonsense. It does sound as if you have things well in hand!

  7. Anonymous4:14 AM

    1. The girl with the sunglasses was back in class yesterday, and she actually behaved and apologized to me at the end of class. Good for her.

    2. The absent boy: missed the weekend mock AP exam. Has been to class. Still hasn't made up old work.

    3. Absent girl with issues: still haven't seen her, but heard she had the flu.

    Sheesh. Thanks for asking, Meridyth.

    Ms. Cookie