It angers me when I feel like I have to ‘give up’ on a student because my colleagues and I cannot find what brings them back to learning, what brings them back to appropriately participating with their peers, what makes them care about something or someone. I prefer the frustrating failed attempts at finding what makes that student connect with something or anyone, but only if we can figure out what that something or who that person is at a later date; I hate that feeling of making repeated attempts only to find nothing: no hint of progress, no sign of interest, nothing.

But that’s the kind of frustration I’m going through right now, along with my colleagues. Trying to figure out what kind of discipline works with this child (while being told that ‘positive’ discipline works, which is pretty applicable to most people), trying to find functional strategies by asking for help of people who are better equipped to handle these students (but being told that there’s nothing they can tell me until the family takes the first step to do something), and trying to be patient when all this student does is harm those around him (by ignoring and overstepping boundaries, through manipulation) has made me exhausted.

It makes me not look forward to that particular class, and it infuriates me because that one student consumes so much energy that I barely know the other children he’s spending his time disrupting, distracting, and harassing. He makes me so angry because I should know more about the other students, but I’m trapped with so few available options: stand over him and redirect him to complete things or kick him out repeatedly to benefit the others.

There are no good options right now. It’s not for lack of trying, but it’s for lack of options until someone else at another step does something. It’s not for lack of desire to find solutions, but it’s for a lack of consistent structure in the institution we’re working with. It’s not for a lack of wanting to keep the others safe, but it’s for a desire to improve profits. There are so many things working against allowing this child to function in the classroom, to create appropriate relationships with his peers, to even care about those around him.

I know all teachers have that moment where they feel like they can’t do their primary job: connect with students. This is one of mine; this is the most overt and obvious example of my inability to connect with a student.

But it’s not because I haven’t tried, it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I’m lacking the support I need from so many angles, just as my colleagues are. I don’t want for us to “find ways to make him less disruptive;” I want to figure out how to help him care about something. Mostly, I want to find ways to make him care about other people.

Except I’m not sure how.

Comments are closed.