In like a Lion

I know it’s not March, but it’s awfully close. It’s overcast, dreary, cold and windy.  The forecast says it should be even colder tomorrow when March makes its official entrance.  That’s okay…I’ll be snuggled up with DH in that big “Grand Victorian” bed.  There’s something comforting about rolling over into March. There’s hope that spring isn’t too far off.

I woke up this morning feeling like taking my coffee out to the spa and watching the sunrise but the cover is somewhere in California being replaced/repaired and it’s too much effort to drag one of those heavy, awkward, foam panels off.  The cover is under warranty, I just bought a new one last year, and it started pulling apart at the seams.  We emailed the spa cover company and they said to unzip it, remove the cover from the foam panels, and ship it back to them.  We’ve been waiting two weeks and, this morning, DH opened his email to find a request from them, sent last Monday, for a return address.  I boxed it up and he took it to UPS to have it shipped.  I can’t believe he didn’t put a return address on it. 

The internet never came back up here at home.  The router went out and we had to get another one and set everything up again.  Now, Saturday morning, we’re back in business.

I watched The Changeling last night.  Really provocative and sad.  Especially knowing that it’s a true story. Won’t say anymore.  Don’t want to spoil it.

In my post on November 14, I blogged about an encounter I had with a new student that I was getting for the trimester.  He had behavior issues and introduced himself, on the first day of class, by having a major meltdown.  I tried to follow up with my favorite Assistant Principal and he said, “He just needs love, Pat.” and I thought, “Yeah, sure!  Stick him in my class so I have to deal with his attitude everyday!”  I tried to work with the kid for a week and he wouldn’t do a damn thing.  I could tell that a violent eruption was always lurking just beneath the surface.  I also began to notice that he couldn’t read or write very well and covered it by refusing to do anything.  Of course, they teach us that these kids need lots of extra help and that sounds good in the book but the reality is that some kids who are so far behind tend to fight tooth and nail when you try to give them “extra” help.   I rationalized that I could let him sit there everyday, hope to avoid major conflict, and just give him a failing grade at the end of the trimester or I could try to do something different.  I decided since it’s my class, and it’s all about computer literacy, that I could teach him to repair computers and have a clear conscience about knowing that he learned something while I had him.  I quit trying to make him do the same thing as my other students and began to set aside computers for him to repair.  I told him he would receive a grade based on his effort.  I taught him, little by little, how to do quite a few repairs.  The kid blossomed!  He would walk into my class everyday (at least the days he was at school), tuck in his shirt (which was the only time he would have his shirt tucked in) and start repairing laptops.  I began to let him pick up and deliver laptops and told him I trusted him to behave appropriately in the hallways and in his encounters with the teachers.  He never let me down.  Not once.  In fact, several teachers told me how polite and helpful he had been to them. He began to smile and his smile would light up your world!  He missed so much school, I had to have a talk with him and told him how much I depended on him to help me get the laptops repaired and his attendance improved.   Of course, we had many, many times when he came to school and stayed only until the end of my second period class and then cut the rest of the day but, at least, it was better than missing the entire day.  I was surprised that none of my other students said, “How come he doesn’t have to do the lessons like the rest of us?” but they never did.  Sometimes, young people are more intuitive and compassionate than we give them credit for.

Yesterday was the last day of the trimester.  I get all new students starting next week.  “T” asked me to check his schedule and see what class he would be taking second period and I told him.  He got upset and said, “That teacher HATES me.  I got suspended because I got in an argument with him in the cafeteria and he got in my face!”  (Actually, “T” has gotten into more than one fight in the cafeteria and I think the teacher was lucky that he just got an argument.)  I talked to him.  Gave him that old standard teacher talk about doing the best you can.  Gave him a hug and told him how much I appreciated all his help and sent him on his way.  After class was over, I couldn’t let go of it.  It really bothered me.  I just couldn’t put my mind at ease.  I went to the AP and began the conversation with, “Bill, do you remember when you told me that “T” just needed some love?” He laughed and said, “Yeah, and you know where he is now, don’t you?  You know what you are to him? You’re his surrogate mother!”  I really hadn’t thought of it that way.  I’ve never discussed “T”s home situation with him but I guess it makes sense.  I do worry about him.  I said, “I know he’s already taken my class but is there anyway I could keep him in some capacity?”  Bill was all smiles and asked if I’d be willing to make sure he received at least some of the same curriculum he’d receive in his new computer class and I told him I’d do the best I could to integrate some of it into my time with him and he changed “T”s schedule so I could keep him 2nd period. I went in search of “T” to tell him to report to me next week instead of the other class but he wasn’t in school.  After leaving my class, he cut the rest of the day.  Now I have a second period class with one student. I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do.  Maybe I’m just enabling him by not having him move on with things the way they are and learn to deal with the other teacher.  I don’t know.  What have I gotten myself into?  Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what’s in a child’s best interest.  So many times, it just comes down to the heart.  I feel it in my heart.  I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense but I think I need to keep him a while longer.  I can’t be his mother.  I can be his teacher. I wrote a poem about this very kind of thing about ten years ago when I was dealing with the same sort of circumstances with a young girl.  I titled it “I am not your Mother” and it was published in a literary magazine.  I may try to find it again.  See if it evokes the same feelings.  It’s hard to be a teacher.  There are, occasionally, those children who make my heart bleed.  The ones you want to wrap your coat around and carry off to a safe and warm place.

Now I’m crying.  Damn, I’ve gotta stop this.  

It’s time to get to work.  I’ve got a lot of housecleaning to do so DH and I can be ready to take off tomorrow morning.  Gotta get the entire weekend’s work done today.



inkheartmeg says 28th February @ 11:11

You’ve given him some light in a dark place. It might not be enough for him to make it through. I wonder if you had him second period and 30 minutes after school, if the would help keep him there all day. You could use that 30 minutes to talk about his issues? BUT that’s taking a big bite into something you really might not wanna be invovled in. He seems to have alot of issues. You can only do so much and hope for the best.

firefly says 28th February @ 11:17

What you are doing for T is wonderful. You’re THAT teacher, the one making a difference, the one he’ll remember. When he’s older, he’ll talk about how miserable high school was for him. How he didn’t fit in, struggled, hated every day of it. And then he’ll say, “except for this one teacher. She cared. She made me feel like I was worth something and believe in myself. If it wasn’t for her, I would have dropped out. SHE MADE A DIFFERENCE IN MY LIFE.” You are that teacher, Patty. And if I haven’t said it before, I think you are totally awesome!

brseay says 28th February @ 11:37

Oh, Patty, I’m crying, too. It’s stories like these that remind us why we teach. I am so glad that you were able to make a difference in his life and you may have given him a future. Good for you for advocating for him and keeping him with you. Not only will it keep him from having problems with the other teacher but you have let him know that there are people out there who are trustworthy. As I’m sure you know there will still be some bumps along the way and there will be days when you wonder why you took on this much responsibility but it is because you have such a true and pure heart.

It’s too bad that good deeds like this don’t automatically result in a 10 pound weight loss 🙂

shallweshrink says 28th February @ 12:35

You made me cry, and I’m not even a teacher! What a heavy weight for you…

I think you absolutely ROCK!!

susan says 28th February @ 18:34

God Bless ya, Patty.

You are a natural nurturer. You’re right to follow your heart in these matters. It’s what separates you from the P.A.U.L.’s of the world.

Keep the light in T’s world, as Meg so eloquently put it. You are making a difference.

A sincere “Thank You”, from all us fellow citizens of the world.

anngirl says 1st March @ 2:34

Ok, so I see a LIFETIME special in your future Ms. Patty. You are a hero!

Thanks for everything you do because guess what – IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

islandgrl says 1st March @ 8:00

Wow Patty, your story just warmed my heart. How special you are….you are what a teacher is all about…
I am like you in that even after 22 years as a nurse, I still hold certain patients in my heart, or send pieces of my heart with them when they die.
I applaud you Patty…and I thank you….

Bobbie says 2nd March @ 1:28

You are amazing. You are the teacher that “T” is going to remember forever. No, you can’t save him and you can’t undo years of abuse but you can be the light in his day which is what you are. You have not given him excuses nor have you impeded his growth. You are what being a teacher is all about – not test scores. You are a positive role model for “T”. Thank you for what you do. The students are lucky to have you.

Joy says 2nd March @ 8:04

man alive you got me crying in my coffee! I so believe that God uses wonderful , special, warm hearted , yet strong women like you to make a difference! You know that phrase “passing it on”? You are and this student will as well because of you! You so inspire me Patty!
Have a great trip!

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