April 24, 2007

On Which I Give Up on a Student

It's true. I gave up. I did the best that I could, and it was enough.

When 4th quarter started a few weeks ago, Loud-Mouth Girl joined my night school writing class. From the very first writing assignment I gave, she complained that it was too much work and that she hated writing. She wanted out of the class so badly, but apparently the counselor was not inclined to allow her to get out, and I thought LMG could handle the class and be successful if she just tried. Honestly, you can't fail the class if you do all your assignments. You can earn a low grade, but not a failing grade. Besides, the class is designed to help those who need to develop writing skills. It's what we do. Yo! It's a writing class.

So LMG pretty much refused to do any of the work, saying that it is too hard--or too much. "I have to write two pages? That's too much!" "Damn! Why we got to write so much? I ain't going to write no essay on that topic." "I ain't creative. How my goin' to write on that?" And let's not forget how she repeatedly announced how she didn't understand and wasn't going to do the assignment as I'm explaining and giving examples to the class.

And, as you might have guessed, she isn't the type of student who just sits in the back quietly wasting her life away. Nope. She's stirring it up all the time as she is complaining about the class. Every time I reprimanded her for talking about inappropriate things, she became confrontational. I offered to help her come up with ideas and topics to get her started on her writings. More complaining as above. I tried not to take it personally, but she was on the attack all the time. I didn't even want to walk near her. The black cloud above her was so large.

The new student who arrived just last week kept looking to me questioning why I allowed the student to so loudly complain about the work load or jump down my throat when I offered help. I had to assure the student not to worry. LMG was just trying to get under my skin, but she wasn't worth it. Some students proudly wear their negativity as if it were valuable bling.

One of my problem students from earlier quarters said to me last night, "Miss, why don't you kick her out?"

"Oh really? Funny YOU would ask. Why didn't I kick you out? You all are capable of doing it, and I have faith in your abilities. Your antics are nothing in the big picture."

I finally gave in tonight, though. She dug in her heels and planned on sitting--and likely stirring trouble--for the entire 100-minute class period. "Miss, you know I don't want to be here. Refer me to get out and I'll we'll all be happier." I told her, again, that I'd rather not because I didn't want to give up on her. I had every faith in her abilities. Or so I told myself. I'm so full of holy teacher shit sometimes. Actually the only thing I had faith in is that she was going to be the reason there would be a cat fight in my classroom tonight.

So I wrote a note to the counselor--and I know the LMG had already repeatedly begged the counselor to get out--telling her that I thought LMG would be better off staying in class, but she was determined to fail. Was it possible for her to get out of the class? ( I left off all the stuff about how she was a giant pain in the arse who annoyed everyone.)

Oh how happy she was! But somehow her posse thought I kicked her out of my class. So, the negative vibes remained.

Can one student really have such a large impact on a classroom?


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