Thursday, April 29, 2010

That Kid Could Be The Great Kid

kids In What About the Great Kid? from PrincipalsPage The Blog by Michael Smith, he states,

“Every teacher has a That Kid.

They also have at least one Great Kid.  Most have more than one Great Kid.”

Over the years, I admit that I have had That Kid many times in my classroom. Yes, I have even had one Great Kid in each class. But sometimes That Kid becomes the Great Kid during the year and sometimes the Great Kid becomes That Kid during the year.

One time I had That Kid who totally drove me crazy. He did everything he could to get attention and was quite happy with getting negative attention. Of course, I fell into the trap and gave him lots of negative attention. In fact, the other students jumped on the bandwagon and supported me by giving him negative attention too. Before a meeting with the parents, I kept a tally sheet of how often he interrupted the class each day for a week. He was disrupting the class 85 -95% of the time. The parents were horrified and I was frustrated. Finally I decided that something had to give. I had to change my own behavior.

I decided to work harder to find out what was the cause of his misbehavior. Once I took the time to really investigate and see this student as a person rather than That Kid, things fell into place. I began to look for ways to make him more successful. I gave him lots of positive attention, sent notes home, called the parents often and slowly his behavior began to change. Within months, the student was only disrupting the class about 10% of the time and by the end of the year, he was so engaged in lessons that he was not disrupting the class at all. By then, he had ceased to be That Kid and became the Great Kid.

On the other hand, I had a Great Kid. This student was well behaved and obviously a teacher pleaser. Whenever I assigned homework, she had it ready to turn in the next day. She never disrupted class and seemed like the perfect child. In fact, I would picture her as the one who would most succeed. Then I began to see that she instigated a lot of problems in class. It was really hard to catch her but she usually stirred up trouble between two other students. Innocently, she would tell one that the other one said something. This caused lots of conflict and drama in my class and no one ever pointed the finger at her. Before long, everyone in the class was mad at each other. This Great Kid was very smart but very sneaky. It took months before we could put two and two together and see who the culprit was. By the end of the year, the Great Kid had become That Kid.

Then Mr. Smith writes,

“As we head towards the end of the school year, as difficult as it is with our patience waning, we should all try to focus on the Great Kids.

Because there are far more Great Kids than there are That Kid.”

I have to disagree with this because I feel that I should focus on all of my kids as if they are all Great Kids. If I only focus on the Great Kids, then I am giving up on That Kid. By doing that, I will feel like I am a failure. It is my job to not give up because I am being a role model for my students. If I give up when times get tough, then what message am I sending to them? Don’t all of my students deserve all that I can give them? Don’t all of them deserve the same focus? I’m not saying that I want to always give all of them the same focus but I should.

What if there are far more That Kids than Great Kids? What if I have a chance to turn more of them around?

Maybe there are more That Kids that become Great Kids because I hung in there with them. I let them know that I could be like others and only focus on the Great Kids but I won’t. I value them as much as anyone. It might take this faith to help turn them around.

What do you think? Do you have this happen in your class? How do you handle it?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Cool & The Gang' by: Michelle Brea


Lisa Parisi said...

I agree with you. We need to stay with all the kids. But sometimes, at this time of year, it gets especially hard to stay with The Kid when the parents aren't supportive. Thank you for the reminder that I just might make a difference.

luckeyfrog said...

I think it's possible that the comment was meant differently.

For me, I need to focus on those great kids. They are the ones that haven't gotten much of my attention. That doesn't mean I will stop praising and working with and encouraging That Kids- but they are so much of a constant. Their needs are in-my-face. It's the Great Kids that I have to really FOCUS on, because they're the ones that fade into the background!

teachin' said...

Although I really like luckeyfrog's interpretation of that post, what you said so resonates with me:

"I should focus on all of my kids as if they are all Great Kids."

Because, really, that's what it comes down to, isn't it? That every child deserves the attention, the compliments, the smile at the very sight of them. Every child needs that. We should do better at making sure they all get that.