Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Have Failed

I have a student this summer over whom I am obsessing because I can not help him. This does happen occasionally and I beat myself up over it each and every time. Even though I know better in my head, in my heart I just know that if only I were smarter and more compassionate and better prepared and kinder and more considerate and less snarky and more willing to let the class standards go by the wayside and less inclined to raise my left eyebrow in derision and in general a nicer person altogether, maybe this student would make it.

I also know that even with all those things together, he isn't going to make it. He isn't going to make it because he doesn't have what it takes, and this time it isn't the fault of all the years of schooling behind him, or his parents, or his former teachers, or his upbringing, or any bad habits he might have, or peer pressure, or drugs, or alcohol, or any of the things educators like to draw attention to when a student isn't going to make it.

It isn't my fault, either. Or his.

This student isn't going to make it because whatever fates might be screwed with the combination of genes and chromosomes and brain cells allotted to him at birth, and what the kid does have, ain't working right.

This breaks my heart, and even understanding this, I still blame myself for not knowing how to reach him.

The other students are complaining now, and something must be done. I've reported it, and all we can do is wait.

Once a decision is made, I will have to live with that, too. The way will be made clear for the rest of the class, but I will always see an empty seat and wish I could have had what it took to reach him.

It isn't me, but it IS me. Why can't I help this student?

I know that sometimes the best way to help is to allow someone else to do it, but I don't like acknowledging that I can not find the key to unlock the door to a student's head.

I also do not like myself for being annoyed by his mannerisms and outbursts and inability to do the simplest things and his coming to class without pencils or paper and his tendency to get up and walk out several times daily and his coming to class twenty minutes or so late every day even though I saw him in the hall an hour before class started, and the way he follows me around shouting and laughing until I have to duck into the restroom to ditch him. I don't like myself for wanting to ditch him. I don't like myself for not being able to help him control himself so the other students can learn.

This isn't fifth grade. This is college. How did this happen? There are no IEP's at this level, but we do have "accommodation sheets." This student does not have one.

The others in the class can't work well with the noise and the movement and the shouted statements that are so blatantly age-inappropriate, and already one of the female students has complained about the staring. And no, we do not make our way around Venice "on a WOCKET!!! Pwanets gots WOCKETS" I had to count that one wrong, too.

If this were middle school, I would know what to do. It's not middle school, however; it's college, and these kinds of behaviors can not be tolerated. I know how to handle children and teens who behave like this, but these students are adults, and I, as well as the other students, are thrown for a loop.

Does anyone have any advice for me? What could I have done? What should I have done? Does one student have the right to disrupt and slow down and upset the other students at the college level? At ANY level?

I will hear back from people in an official capacity soon, probably tomorrow. I know they will know what to do.

I also know that I did not know what to do. Right now I don't like myself very well. I feel like a failure. I would not hurt this student's feelings for anything, but there are other students with feelings, too. These people paid a lot of money to take this class, and it's not fair for them to have to put up with this. I had to report it. I hate it, but I did it.

But what else could I have done? Anybody?

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:46 PM | |


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