Monday, May 07, 2007

Mental Health Alert

At what point does a teacher have to let go of his students?

In the last two weeks, the tension between leaving no child behind and giving up has amassed outside the gates of my sanity. Some of my students might actually believe that I have already given in to the latter--and I couldn't blame them for believing it.
Teaching seniors has wonderful advantages. They have an excitement about them that I can readily recall from my schooling. But while I enjoy the maturity above the underclassmen, their apathy in May guts my emotions.
One student began the year with tremendous promise. I believe in this student's future--it holds so much promise. And yet, as we've progressed through the semester, that chair is often empty. It kills me. Maybe I should focus on the ones who do show up. Maybe I should realize that at least a handful are still reaching for the best.
I can't. I am too busy thinking about the one who has allowed her grades to slip, almost beyond salvaging (I could help if she'd come talk to me.) Instead, she just doesn't show up.
Focus on the young man who still asks deep questions about the book.
I can't. I am too busy wondering if the young man who always finds a reason to miss class will ever return. I believed in him, too.
When do I let go? When do I give in to what seems inevitable? No child left behind, says the government. But at what cost to me?


At 6:31 AM , Blogger Amerloc said...

I don't think this one's an NCLB issue at all: you'd have seen the same promise in those missing students without the law; you'd have had the same battle with your sanity come spring.

It's part of the price you pay for teaching the seniors you love to teach, and it happens to the teachers of all seniors everywhere.

That said, seniors were always my favorite, too, for the same reasons you've expressed. Even if they did make May hell.

At 7:13 AM , Blogger Coach Brown said...

I'm right with on Seniors. I love'em, and they drive me nuts, especially in May.

There's a point where you realize that students have not matured emotionally and academically, regardless of how many doors you open and safety nets you put under them. I'm watching a few students take the wrong path, some that I've been working with for 4 years. Two things go through my mind:
1) I'm feel sad, like I somehow failed them, even though I gave them every opportunity.
2) Some won't learn, unless they actually experiance it. Many will still make it and figure it out down the line.

I don't give up on students, but I don't fight as hard against choices they are dead set in making.

At 8:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some students just grab a special place in your heart. They kind of become your own kids. Sometimes the ones that you think you aren't getting to surprise you years later. Growing up is indeed hard to do.

At 4:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't give up on the one who's missing. I have a daughter who dropped into a black hole one November and didn't come out until April of the next year. She's a bright student who cared about her school work but she just gave up. I contacted every teacher of hers and not one, no, not one really reached out to her. One played mind games with her because he didn't like the path she had taken, and the rest...well, they just gave up and let her fail. And she lost 6 months of school and now looks back and wishes that somehow she'd held on during that hard time.

These kids need a teacher to care sometimes or make a phone call. Or something. I was stunned that 5 of her teachers did NOTHING after I asked and asked and asked them to please jump in and help her. They just backed away, maybe because she was going downhill so fast that they didn't know WHAT to do. I don't know. But it was very enlightening and when this daughter asked to leave the high school and go to community college the next year, I obliged. I didn't think anyone would miss her.


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