Many of My Most Difficult Students End Up Loving Me
I began teaching in 1991-92. Most of my years in the classroom are full time, though a few have been part time. Most have been in the Louisiana public high school setting. Some have been in the Georgia alternative school setting, one in which every new student had been expelled from a public high school. And still some have been at the post-secondary level in both Colorado and Indiana.
When I moved back to southern Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina, I began teaching English at the public high school where I have been for the past 10 years.
Just thought I’d share one lesson I have learned from my public school students:
The ones who tend to push me the most and require the toughest discipline usually end up loving me the most.
They also learn to respect authority in the process– an indispensable life lesson.
I have seen this reality come to pass numerous times over the years. The student challenges me, pushes the limits and is disciplined, pushes again and again and is disciplined–
–and expects me to retaliate, to hate, to criticize, to refuse to help when assistance with classwork is needed.
But no hate comes. No grudge. No refusal to help.
Then one day, breakthrough.
It might be sooner than later. Sometimes it is later than sooner.
What happens is that a trust is established and a relationship is forged. That doesn’t mean there is no longer a need for discipline. What it means is that the student trusts me and understands (and even comes to value) the discipline when it must come.
These moments I consider the gems of teaching and learning.
These moments defy capture on any standardized test or school grading rubric.