Let him know that you know best
Cause after all you do know best
Try to slip past his defense
Without granting innocence
Lay down a list of what is wrong
The things you've told him all along
And pray to God he hears you
As he begins to raise his voice
You lower yours and grant him one last choice
Drive until you lose the road
Or break with the ones you've followed
We spend 2 mornings a week together, reading level A books as he eats breakfast in my classroom. 'The cat jumps over the couch...the cat jumps over the plant..." He struggles less and less each time and never complains that he's reading kindergarten level books.
He was my biggest behavior problem - now he's my biggest crier.
Where kids responded with anger they now respond with tears, my disappointment in them the worst consequence many of them could imagine.
On Tuesday, in between lines of a story about a balloon, he brought me closer to tears than I have ever been with a student.
"You know, Ms. G, I really appreciate what you're doing with us but me and M, we're gonna drop out."
"What are you talking about?" I asked. "You guys are both doing great."
"Yeah but we blew it. We're too old. We're just gonna be in here until we old enough to leave."
3 more years and they'll be old enough to leave. If they're not retained any more they'll, at best, complete the 7th grade.
At first I thought he was kidding, until the book remained on the same page for 20 minutes and I found myself pleading with him...trying to convince him that he was too good for the streets and this life. That I cared about him and would do whatever it took to get him to succeed.
"You always say that but it's too late," he said.
"It's never too late. We're going to get there together," I said in a voice that begged him to not give up.
He's the kid I restrained 2 Fridays ago.
The kid who was the biggest thug in my room until his mom, in a meeting I demaded before I would let him in my room again, admitted to me that neither she, nor any of his 4 brothers, can read.
It was at that moment, as I held him while his mom yelled, that I committed to do whatever it takes to give him everything I had.
People keep warning me not to give too much - not to try to save these kids because most of them don't want to be saved, but I don't know how not to.
How not to ask their side of the story before condeming or run outside when I hear them fighting during recess or hold them when they cry because they've finally realized the severity of their actions.
I don't know how to not fight for them or how to mentally leave them at school. I don't know how to teach them subtraction with regrouping so that it actually makes sense and I don't know how to get them to walk in 2 quiet, straight lines but I do...each and every day...know how to care about them.
Unfortuneately, that's not enough and if they're going to have the chance I want them all to have I need to step it up and figure out how to do the other things....