You know that kid, the one everyone already knows because of her behavior. The one that already has a reputation, 3 months into her new school. The one that other students fear. That girl and I recently had a conversation during one of the many times she was kicked out of class for her behavior. As we were talking, she stated that she was bad. “I’m just bad”, is what she told me. What experiences has a 12 year old had in their life to make them believe they are bad? This kind of kid is exactly the reason I became a teacher, and also the reason that drove my decision to become a reading specialist. No kid deserves to feel that they are bad.
I listened to her, and told her she wasn’t bad, but sometimes makes bad decisions. Who doesn’t? I explained that I have made plenty of bad decisions in my life, which is true. I had to move on to an appointment, and left her with the guidance counselor. This was one of countless interactions I have had with students over my 13 years in education. I have heard many students speak about how they are not smart, can’t read, can’t do math, etc. I don’t know the impact my listening and talking through a students belief about their abilities with them has had. In my teacher fantasy world, my listening and encouragement has led to a turn around in the child’s life, and they realize their talents. I’ve never know this too happen, but a girl can dream.
Back to That Kid, the one who thinks she is bad. A couple of weeks later, she was back in the office for her behavior. I greeted her as I would any student, in trouble or not, and went back to working with another student. She left with another teacher to discuss her behavior and why she had gotten thrown out of class again. Later that day, I saw the teacher she went with to discuss her behavior. The teacher told me That Kid asked why she couldn’t stay with me, she doesn’t know my name. She told the teacher I am always nice to her. I hope she feels this way, and knows that she is as valuable as the student that is always praised. She has no idea, but she made my year by saying that I was nice to her. This is why I got into teaching, to help students know how talented and valuable they are. I hope she knows I see value in her, even when she makes a bad decision.