To make some extra money over the summer, I am working at a local summer camp. The camp is comprised of students in first grade through fifth grade and gives the students the opportunity to have fun learning during the summer. One particular student has been an incredible challenge with his impossible behavior. He has been kicked out of two public schools during the previous year and his parents have conveniently decided that he should attend camp with us.
As the summer camp began we talked with our boss about the fact that this child's extreme behavior would sully the camps program. The answer that came back from our boss was that the child's family was going through a hard time and that the child would be staying in our camp, because our boss knows the family and wants to help them out.
In teaching we rarely get to choose the students who enter our classroom. The administrators, parents, district, state, and national guidelines all converge to bring us a class of students and a place to teach. Often we are given little else.
As I have worked with this challenging student for the past three weeks I have often wanted to pull my hair out and simply give-up by removing the child from my presence. Some days I win with good behavior management and other days I can see the child's elfish grin as he thinks of the next way to try and get me. I keep trying not because I'm a sadist, but because I am the teacher that at this moment in time has the opportunity to change his life for the good.
Yesterday, as I helped this child tie his shoe, I noticed the soles of his shoes were worn all the way through to his bare feet. In addition to feeding, corralling, and teaching I worked on getting shoes for this child. I don't get a bonus or even a "thank you" for my extra effort, but I know it needs to be done.
You and I do not always get to choose the children that we teach, but they are in our lives for a reason. Sometimes we get to make their lives better by giving them the skills they will need to be better citizens. At other times they help us to become stronger by taking us to the brink of insanity so that we gain super human patience. Regardless what the greater reason, teaching is a tough thankless job that is accomplished by hundreds of thousands of teachers all across the world.
Please join me this year as I take us daily through the trials and joys of a full year of teaching. It is my hope that together we will gain the strength we need to teach effectively in spite of the challenges and odds that can sometimes seem impossible.
(What would you do if you had an impossible student in your class that you had to deal with?)