It’s been 3 months since the 2019-2020 school year has started. Shamefully, today is the first day that I had a full conversation with one of my students. It’s not cause I haven’t tried. Somehow, within the first 1 minute of meeting me, he realized that I wasn’t his cup of tea. Now, he has spoken to me. All vile and rude comments and as much as he expresses how much I make him sick, by now, he should be in the hospital. I have called mom more times than I’ve had to call any parent collectively in all of my years teaching. I’m not proud of this because I HATE calling parents with unpleasant news. Of course, this made him hate me more. I can take a lot…but, disrespect makes my skin crawl. Nothing I did worked. I still greeted him everyday as I did the other students even though he’d never respond. I still asked if he needed help even though he’d tell me to get out of his face and throw the work on the floor. I’d still ask if he was hungry and wanted lunch and he’d roll his eyes and go on his phone. I still had/have to teach him. I still had/have to do my job. Most importantly, I still had/have to represent God. It hasn’t been easy. How can I have a good relationship with the rest of my class and this one student hates me? How could I prevent my personal feelings from influencing me to not care about this student?
My interaction with this student started becoming routine. I’d just do it to say that I tried. It wasn’t until I saw how my aide bounced right back after he cursed her out one day that I realized that I needed to truly work harder and not give up. She is always trying to genuinely interact with him. Giving him compliments for the smallest of accomplishments. When I say small, I mean really small. If she asks him a question and he shakes his head, she’s telling him how great that head shake was.
Today, for the first time, he welcomed me into his personal space and let me assist him with his work. I asked if he wanted (cause I know that he needs) my help. HE SHRUGGED HIS SHOULDERS!!! This is a win! Usually, I get a rude remark like leave me alone, get out of my face or he’ll just ignore me. So, I took full advantage. I really wanted to do a cartwheel. Instead, I grabbed my chair and rolled right up to his desk. He barely said anything to me as I helped him. I didn’t care because he completed his work!
At the end of the day, I was telling another student how I couldn’t wait for the International Festival and that I hoped there would be conch salad like last year. It was then, that my student, turned around and looked at me and told me how much he loves conch, too. He shared more conch stories and even gave me a smile during our exchange. Of course, I played it cool. Then my other student who is usually attached to me at the hip notices that I have a camera in my hand and asked me why I had the camera. I then told him that I needed to take pictures for my blog. The other student then says, “you have a vlog?”. I’m like “no”, I said a blog. He looks at me and says, “oh, if you have a vlog, you’ll get followers if your daughter is in it. If you do it alone, people will think your voice is annoying”. He was serious and not being his rude self. I thanked him for that advice.
I probably won’t ever be his cup of tea and this is just one day. Who knows what tomorrow will hold? Could it be that my voice really annoys him? It’s possible. I can’t change it, though. What I can do is change my interactions with him. I can make them more meaningful. It’s not up to him. As teachers, we must provide an opportunity for ALL students to learn. This almost always requires us make sure that our students are at the center of the learning process and that we are meeting their needs and not vice versa. It is not always easy and I sometimes must excuse myself from situations to keep my emotions in check. However, this day gave me hope. It reminded me to not give up on this student. I don’t know his life.