Monday, October 7, 2013

Connecting With Hard-to-reach Students

I'm pretty sure every teacher has a kid now and then that they just really struggle to connect with. Mine this year is a boy whose mama is buried in his front yard, and whose daddy is in jail. This boy would do just about anything for attention and I would praise him for everything I could think of to get him some positive attention. I had him be my special helper, called on him extra, did interest inventories, incorporated student interests into my lessons, etc but I could not get him on my page. One day, after interrupting me while I modeled our assignment 4 times, I had him step into the hallway to talk. He told me he felt like I didn't care. It didn't matter that I had been telling him for weeks that I'd love I hear his stories, just not in the middle of me explaining something or out loud in front of the whole class during a test. It didn't matter that I offered to listen to his stories during class change or at lunch, or on the way to the school bus in the afternoon. This boy didn't feel that he mattered to me. I didn't know what else to do, so I called home. 

Meanwhile, my fabulous boyfriend had gifted me an orchid in my favorite color. I chose to bring it to school and display it there. That day, this boy walked into my room and straight to the orchid. He didn't speak to anyone or even put his book bag down. He was mesmerized. He stared and stared, and turned it so he could see at all angles. When someone attempted to start a conversation, he replied "shhh. I'm looking at this plant. It's the most beautiful flower in all the world. I can't remember what it's called but it start with an O."

We used the beginning of class to talk about orchids and I asked this boy if he could be in charge of reminding me to water it. He replied with a "Yes, ma'am, and I could even water it for you if that would help." I was shocked! This boy loves my orchid. Since then, he has been my student of the week, passed a quiz and a test, and hasn't been in major trouble in my room. (He also is solely responsible for the care of the orchid, and it is doing quite well.)

What I want I know is how you reach those difficult to reach kids in your classroom. How do y'all do it??

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