After writing last Sunday’s post, I reflected on what I wrote and thought maybe it was a little too positive. I actually woke up in that night thinking, “I shouldn’t make it look like everything’s perfect. I shouldn’t sugar-coat things.” I’m not sure if I woke up because of that thought, or if I just woke up while thinking that thought (if you see the distinction), but fortunately the following week gave me plenty to write about.*
It must have been spring break fever, because there were some crabby teens at Wellstone. Even a few kids who normally come bouncing into class and greet me right away were really off. The teacher asked a few students to move seats and they just refused. Another teacher asked two students to work together and they just refused. And then there was the case of the class who had to pick partners, and it took TEN MINUTES of class time. What happened?
Teachers, parents, others who work with kids: what do you do when they just refuse to do something? I haven’t figured this one out yet. Besides sending them to the principal’s office–that’s appropriate sometimes, but one probably shouldn’t bust that move except in extreme cases. The teachers in the situations I mentioned above took the kids aside and gave them a “Look, this is serious” talk, and that worked.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how polite some of the students have been. You hear horror stories about teens, and I was wondering if maybe these kids were different because of cultural differences. And look: everyone is entitled to bad days, and I know young people don’t always have the skills or the agency in their lives to express their feelings in the best possible way. But when it interferes with learning, what do you do?
*I’m also being cautious about complaining because I think I’d get in more trouble for talking about my experience negatively than positively. I just want to point out that I’m being really, really, REALLY careful about posting anything inappropriate or revealing anyone’s identity.