Q: Have you ever felt like quitting on a student, or have you ever disliked a student so much you just didn't want to help them?
A: Of course I have felt like quitting on a student. I have felt like quitting on an entire class before. But teachers are not able to just throw in the proverbial towel if a class isn’t going the way we want it to. We teach so that we can help those very students succeed.
Researching methodology, writing lesson plans, creating Smartboard files, and physically teaching the masses is exhausting, and it is absolutely daunting to put so much effort into your job to have students act like what you’re doing is the lamest endeavor on earth.
Imagine putting all of your effort into one project you created that you want to share with your classmates. You spend weeks identifying your topic, developing questions to discuss, and creating a fun writing assignment for everyone to complete. Now imagine presenting your project to a classroom full of tired, uninterested students that are chatting while you talk. People are strolling in late and hugging each other on the way to their desks. Or even worse, someone says loud enough for you and everyone else to hear, “Man, this is stupid.”
Students can be nasty, disrespectful, hurtful, and just plain mean, but to be fair, so can teachers. Whenever I catch myself feeling upset or angry that a lesson isn’t going the way I want it to, or a student is being particularly rude in class, I have to remember that every behavior is a reflection of need. If a student’s needs are not being met, they will display certain behaviors in order to fulfill that need. People have bad days. Everyone loses their cool. Not everyone is going to think my ideas are as awesome as I think they are. Lessons crash and burn sometimes. That’s just life.
Students are going to be mean at times. The trick is to see through the obstacles and focus on the good rather than the bad. See the student for who they really are and appreciate whatever struggle it is that they are going through. Once I do that, it becomes impossible to give up on anyone.
Miss Dame is the 10th grade English teacher and National Honor Society advisor in the Bronx, NY.
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Have you ever had a teacher give up on you?