. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Walk About

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Walk About

Remember when I said that there is no better way to get to know a kid than to have lunch with them?

Well, walking them home is pretty enlightening as well.

I walked Howard home yesterday.

You see, Howard is a difficult child to motivate. He hates school.

... and school isn't in his fan club either.

He's always exhausted, laying around on his desk, playing with his pencil, bugging his neighbors and being a general nuisance to others. He is also always unshowered and rarely brushes his teeth.

I feel like all I do is redirect his behavior and ask him to go wash his hands.

ALL I do is redirect his behavior and ask him to go wash his hands, making teaching all the other students (also really needy kiddos) a big challenge.

It's like trying to read a wonderful novel while simultaneously remodeling my own kitchen with nothing but a plastic fork and super glue.

Impossible to do, but guaranteed to leave you feeling like a failure.

So at the end of the day yesterday, after Howard got in trouble for punching another student in line as we were leaving, I decided to make a change.

You see, Howard is not a good student, but he is savvy enough to know that doing things at the end of the day on a Friday probably means no immediate consequences.

What he didn't bank on was the fact that I have no life, therefore I have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to dedicate to his consequences.

I sent his friends walking home without him and kept him with me for 20 minutes to discuss his decision to hit. I let him know that detention on Monday was coming too. Then, I began walking him off campus.

...and never stopped walking him.

Howard: Are you going to walk me all the way home?!?

Me: Yup.

Howard: To talk to my grandma or mom, because they're not there.

Me: We'll see.

I just started chatting with him, asking him what he liked about school.


What he doesn't like about school.

Everything and everyone else.

What he would like to see more of in school.


If, in his 5 years at our school, he had ever been on a rewards contract to earn good stuff for making good choices.


Would he like to be on one?


Who he lives with.

About 11 other people in a 3 bedroom house.

Who is home when he gets there.

No one.

Who he shares a room with.

Mom and two sisters.

Bunk beds? Single beds? Share a bed?

I sleep on the floor.

Who gets him dinner and reminds him to get ready for bed?

No one. Mom is out until late and everyone else is busy with other stuff.

I told him that I agree that recess is fun and I like it too. I also think that more playing can happen while we learn, but that we have a lot of work to do on behavior before I think he can learn while playing. Playing is something that can be earned on a rewards contract.

He was in a pretty good mood by the time we reached his driveway, however his grandma's truck was in the driveway.

I'm sure he thought, "Oh, crap..."

Me: Well, thanks for the great ideas, Howard. I'll see you on Monday.

Howard: ummmmm, You're not going to talk with my grandma?

Me: Nope. I just wanted to talk with you.

Howard: (sheepish grin) Really?

Me: Yup. Have a good evening, Howard.

Howard: You too, Mrs. Lee.

It might take all year, but Howard needs to trust us. He needs to know that for the hours he's at school, someone wants to take care of him.

And someone cares enough to remind him to wash his hands.


Anonymous said...

Wow. That makes teaching all worth while, doesn't it? We may never understand fully what these kids go through, but at least they know they can come to school and be loved and safe. Thanks for the neat story!

MG said...

Thank you for this. I just had a meeting with fellow student teachers the other day and was so frustrated at their inability to be compassionate about some of their "trouble" students. There is ALWAYS a reason for their behavior. It's our job to find out what it is and help them the best we can. Again, Thank You!

Edna Lee said...

I am convinced that the most effective way to get kids to behave is to spend time with them. You know them on a more personal level and they become invested in wanting to please you.

My teaching partner says it best: Kids spell love differently. T-I-M-E.

pat said...

If no one else has told you lately - you are a GREAT TEACHER! When I went into teaching into 1978, this is my feeling about teaching was, do anything for the benefit of the child. I am happy to see that there are fellow teachers, even in this day and age of teacher bashing and feeling own on ourselves, who have not given up the fight!!!

Steph said...

i love that - kids spell love 't-i-m-e.' i have my own 'howard' (with a little bit of a different situation) this year, and reading this was very encouraging as i am working daily to build a relationship of stability, security and trust with him. thank you very much for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

It is odd what you can find out about a person when you pull them out of their shell. Good on you. I hope Howard got his act together. School can be a nice place. Besides in a few years he's going meet School's twin, Work aka A Job.