I have long been a fan of Ruby Payne's "Framework for Understanding Poverty." I read that book and felt like my teaching life had been changed. Although there are people who go on and on about how Dr. Payne uses a 'deficit' type model for poverty, I don't really care about that. What the book helped me to see is part of 'the big picture' of kids. I haven't jammed anyone into a pigeon hole, but I have learned that some of their behaviors are present because of a system that was designed to keep them where they are. As I read the book, I instantly saw pictures in my mind of some kids.
Want to know why a kid is acting the way they are??? Ask them. No, seriously, ask them. Dare to find out a part of the big picture. Find out a little about their life outside of school. Get some information about what motivates them. While you are at it, take an interest in the things that motivate them. I have resolved a lot of student misbehavior by just knowing a little about them and taking an interest.
Well, since I have spent three days in the classroom last week, I can admit it.....There are some kids that test my normally pleasant demeanor. In fact, in one instance this week, I was chanting inside my head, "follow your own words, bucko, it's the BEHAVIOR you are looking at....not the kid." Once, I almost laughed out loud...thinking that some of you might have sent that kid to test me, to see what I am really made of as a teacher. Fortunately, the calmer voice inside prevailed.
So, what is the 'big picture' of those kids you may or may not have sent to test me? The truth is, I don't know. Their story has not unfolded. A few kids, in my twenty-three years, have left a mystery. Then, you have to let go...once you have done everything you can, you let them fly.
One warning...you are bound to get hurt. I have already been bruised a few times this year, and it's only been three days. Some kids I have spent tons of time with have dropped out of my program or have said rude things. But here is the thing, when you see the big picture, you understand that it's not about me...it rarely is. Kids sometimes lash out at the people who care the most about them...It's all a part of the cycle. However, I shall keep trying. I have to. I am a teacher and that is what we do. We look at the big pictures.....and we take "the whole package."
Making connections with kids is exhausting and challenging.....But, so rewarding and life-changing....your life.