Saturday, October 15, 2011


TI was enjoying breakfast this morning in a local diner with my boyfriend (diner food -- a guilty pleasure) when two women entered with two boys aged approximately four years.  These two boys seemed very sweet, and amused themselves by playing a peg game:

Their food came, and shortly after they finished eating, one of the boys stood up on the bench and very loudly started saying "BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP"  Mom seemed upset, but what first occurred to me was that it must be his timer going off -- the internal timer that says "can't sit still any longer!"  Of course I was in no way responsible for this child, but all I could do was laugh.  Things progressed in similar fashion, and the moms finally packed up the boys and left (embarrassed) after one of them tipped the syrup bottle to his mouth to get a bigger taste.

I thought to myself that someone who left before the boys finished eating, would have a different interpretation of the boys than I do, as would someone who did not arrive until after the food had been eaten, and the "beeping" began.  Same boys, different points in the spectrum of  their tolerance of what was being expected of them.

So, I should get to the point.  How many times have we had or overheard the discussion in the teachers' room about a single student and two teachers who view that student in a completely different way?  "She's such a handful for me!"  "That's interesting, because she's an angel in my class."  Too often the easy answer is to 

a.  blame the student, or
b.  blame the teacher

when in truth, there are so many more variables that could be at play.  At what time of day does the student perform better?  Is she not a morning person?  Is he burned out by the last class of the day?  Are there gender issues -- does the student relate better to males or females?  Is the class right before lunch, and does this student arrive to school having skipped breakfast?  Is the teaching style compatible with the learning style?  Is the student on medication, and at what time is the medication administered?  At what time does it begin to wear off?

My challenge to you, is to think about one student you are having trouble reaching.  Talk to other teachers -- current or past -- who have had success with that student, and try to find patterns.  Talk to parents, counselors, the school nurse, AND THE STUDENT.  Make your own observations of what seems to work with this student in your class when you do have moments of success.

Let me know how it goes!

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