Thursday, April 8, 2010

Locked Out

Students of mine will immediately know who I'm talking about in this post. For the sake of writing online, let's call this student Kevin.

Kevin has been a problem child at my school since day one. Profanity is at the bottom of the list of concerns regarding Kevin. He frequently disrupts the learning process, uses stereotypes, has anger issues, talks about getting high 24/7 and quite frankly, exhibits behavior which would lead one to assume he does not want to be in school. For a majority of teachers, he's a royal pain in the ass, although we may not admit it. There are teachers that care about his small successes - personally, I haven't seen any in my classroom (but that's just my class). But since when is it acceptable to only show success with teachers that you can "connect" with? That sounds like a spoiled brat to me.

Honestly, at first I didn't know where I stood with him. But now I do. I can see through the daily bullshit and I'm sick of it.
"Mista, Imma be good today and take notes and shit." 
Two minutes later, Kevin is disrupting the class and preventing others from learning. It's quite clear his math skills are so low that he'd rather be anywhere else (including the Dean's room) than my classroom. He also has trust issues: I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm out to "get" him, even though I've gone out of my way to make sure he knows I'm on his side. I want him to pass and I want him to graduate.

When he's not being disruptive or taking 20 minute bathroom breaks, it's all an act. When I call on him to catch him while he's disrupting the class, I get this gem:
"Yeah, um, then you find the uh, perimeter to get the area. Length times width times height." 
Using keywords and phrases I use in the lesson and then vomiting back to me in a completely wrong manner. Bullshit 101. Actually, not really: bullshitting would at least make some sense. This is the old trouble maker strategy of using-words-I-hear-the-teacher-use-while-I-fuck-around-to-make-it-seem-like-I-know-what-I'm-talking-about.When I correct him:
"Yeah, that's what I said. Man, I'm so fuckin' good at math!"
This is usually followed by some obscene comment to distract the other students from realizing Kevin has no idea what he's talking about. The past two days, Kevin has disrupted my class a little more than usual. After asking to use the bathroom about nine times as soon as the period started (he always asks, comes back nearly a half hour later, and then just messes around), he left the classroom without permission (swearing at me under his breath - which is fine, really). What pisses me off though, is his "whatever" attitude towards education (hurting everyone else's as well). I'm seriously done with sacrificing everyone else's attention span to be considerate. Not this trimester.

So, I locked him out:
"Kevin, you clearly don't want to be in class and learn. This tells me you have no interest in graduating. Don't even try to come back. Don't look into my classroom. Go straight to the dean. You're not in trouble. You just lost your privilege to be in my class."
The kids who I usually lost because of Kevin's disruptions, actually learned today's concepts as per their assessment results. I was thrilled.

Am I a bad teacher to Kevin for doing this? Maybe. But you know what, maybe this school isn't for Kevin. He needs to reconsider why he's even here. This school has given him countless chances on top of giving him the opportunity to accumulate credits rapidly in order to graduate. Maybe school isn't for Kevin. Only Kevin knows and his actions speak louder than ideas or words.

I'm tired of playing teacher, mentor and school psychiatrist. We really need one.


Pancake said...

Well i understand wat u mean by this blog but the sad thing is tht "kevin" isnt just one person there are plenty of us who act like him me being one of them at times i must admitte but hey we make our own choices to do what we do act out and take advantage of the teachers and staff that actually care and try to help us ..jst a thought

Anonymous said...

Well fina-freakin'-ly. I was waiting fer the day one of you would crack & put their foot down. >_>...*applaud*

Ahsan said...

Wait, do your students read this blog?

Anonymous said...

Wordd. Ive done projects with him before, and I think that trust is a major role.

Hes obviously insecure about how 'smart' he is. Because when we both had to do a project together (for global first trimester), I made it clear to him that any participation he had, big or small, would have a great impact in our grades.

I guess by completely taking that pressure of his chest and implying " Kelvin Its okay as long as you try" really made him feel that he had nothing to loose, or that there was no way he would feel shame for not measuring up. It helped because at the end, he did almost as much as I did.

But he cant expect people to always find ways to take the pressures of off him, thats something he has to do on his own. He has self issues, that he needs to battle now in order to move on in the real world. Your not a bad teacher at all, when first of all you intentions have always been good...for him and for ALL your students. Its hard to help him when hes ruining it for the others.

Ive said this before, you should just focus on the kids that really are there to learn. Tell him "Kevin, Im ready when you are."

(omg i wrote like a freaking page again, sorry lol)

Anonymous said...

Strange that you picked the name "Kevin" to describe someone who disrupted class....

Mr. T said...

Yo Mista!

As I have mentioned in my blog as well ( School truly is not for everyone! I think that our colleagues in TFA would dislocate their eyeball muscles and have an aneurysm upon hearing such blasphemy, but in there is no way, no way in hell, heaven or earth, that everyone is capable of going to college. We all ahve different genes, different life experiences, different wants, different intelligences and intelligence levels - this alone relagates some to the nether regions of vocational pursuits. If this were not the case NASA scientists would be washing their own carpets.
i don't think we should make the decisions for the kids, whether they can or should go to college, but when we encounter an example who is resistant to all form of reasoning and has fucked up 30 "2nd" chances: sorry. Its drugs, gangs, jail or burger King for you big man and there is not a damn thing we can do.
You put in the effort, you gave him multiple chances, you went out of your way ( I am assuming) and at his age he still made the aforementioned descions?
focus on the kids who want to learn in that class, your energy is thus better spent.

MissEmmmm said...

That's the sanest way I've ever heard anyone put it so far. Most of us just sputter "...Kevin..." then shake our heads. I have trouble not taking it personally. Usually, I can sometimes console myself with a (paraphrased) proverb - "You can't teach someone who is not ready to learn". Until then gotta keep 'em busy... oogh

Yo Mista said...

@ Pancake:
Yes, there are definitely more "Kevin's" running our school. I appreciate your honesty regarding your behavior, and yes, you admit it's your choice.

But if it's as easy as shrugging your shoulders and saying, "hey my decision," then why not man up and stop coming to school altogether? If you're doing jack shit here, why not do jack shit at home?

If it's because your parents are "forcing" you to come everyday, there are ways around that.

What makes you wake up every morning, make the commute, turn in your cell phone, and spend 6-7 hrs a day in a building that resembles a jail if you can then go and "make a decision" to refuse to learn? What's the point?

@ Anonymous 1:
Sorry it took so long.

@ Ahsan:
Yes, they have their ways of finding things around the internet...

@ Anonymous #2:
Wow, nicely written. Seriously, there are some great insights here. Keep up writing, it will take you far!

@ Anonymous #3:
It has nothing to do with you Pepe lol.

@ Mr. T:
Love how you plugged your blog in here, lol. I thought I did focus on the kids who were there to learn, but I did nothing with regards to kids like Kevin. Now I know, I just need to take them out of the picture.

@ MissEmmmm:
When you stop taking it personally, you become a machine. We'll always feel it, even if it's just a little bit.

Anonymous said...

well i agree with you. i think that we should lock more "kevins" out. i know on my part as a student if ur in that school its to learn and just get out. i hate when you have your fav. class coming up and there is "kevin". and after "kevin" is done playing around and messing up the leason i feel like i lost out on what im sure was a good leason. idk im juss sick of all the "kevins"