Thursday, November 26, 2015

A tale of 2 students

Last night I got a call from a student. Haven't thought about him in 2 years, since he dropped out of my class and out of school.

He is one of those who makes bad decision after bad decision, convinced that he is so charming that the rest of us losers won't impede whatever progress he sees himself accomplishing.

He wanted to borrow $50. Maybe I should say "borrow". I took him the money because of what he said next. His family wouldn't help him and he is living in his car.

I have to be close to the bottom of his list. I have no delusions that I was his favorite teacher - or favorite anything. I cannot imagine being in a position that my family and friends have written me off.

So I took him the money. He wasn't in the parking lot he said he would be in. Apparently he had been involved in a fight and been told to leave. {while he was waiting for me to bring him money. Couldn't stay out of throuble for that short period of time.] So I gave the money to the manager of the restaurant where he hangs out and asked her to pass it along. And I went home.

Maybe he will get the money. Maybe he will turn his life around. Maybe not. But, beyond prayers, I have nothing else for him.

So keep him in your prayers.

If I could have talked with him, would I have told him what I was thinking on the way over? Get a job. Get your GED. Grow up. Lose the attitude and drugs. Mend your fences.

Probably not.

I contrast this with another student who traveled for several hours to help one of my current students, who gave of self to help someone who is unknown and hurting.

I know which person I would rather be. And which one I would rather have in my life.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Alternate universe

Teaching in high school is like living among aliens - or existing in an alternate universe with very different rules.

Yesterday a student told me to commit a physically impossible act on myself, using (of course) much shorter words. Since it was done anonymously, there isn't much to do except move on. I know it was one of a handful of students who are failing and refuse help. They fail to understand certain things: they need help; it is being offered and refused; they don't have to like me any more than I have to like them (which doesn't change that I will help them if they let me); and - whether they get the help from me or someone else, they still have to pass the math class to graduate.

This was followed today by a heartfelt thank you from a student who was never in a class of mine - someone I had to chase out of class everyday because I taught her friend. I always liked her, we are friends on facebook - and I was honored to get thanks when I did nothing.

I guess it all about balance.