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Many of My Most Difficult Students End Up Loving Me

March 17, 2017

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.


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Lovely, Mercedes. You are doing, as one might say, God’s work. Your socialist brethren and sistern have ruined it for all. Only remedy is to go universal voucher-charter.

    • Christine Langhoff permalink

      Harlan, we don’t do “God’s work” in our public schools. It’s actually still forbidden, at least until the Betsy gets that changed by an Executive Order, from the godless man (temporarily) sitting at the desk in the Oval Office.

  2. Mercedes, hello. I really like your piece. About two weeks ago I began a publication on where teachers can raise their voices. In just that short amount of time, over 85 people have begun to follow the publication. I teach near Syracuse, NY and my brother-in-law lives in Baton Rouge. Teachers from across the country have contacted me. Would you be willing to post this on the medium publication? Here is the link for your perusal: . Thank you for time and consideration.

  3. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Eloquent and the truth of the matter.

  4. I learned this lesson my second year teaching when my most difficult students from my first year came back hugging me and thanking me and even apologizing for being so “difficult”. Then they started telling their younger brothers, sisters, and cousins that I was a good teacher, and not to mess around in my class. This is why it’s important to have teachers stay in schools and build community relationships- the trust builds over the years.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: My Most Difficult Students End Up Loving Me the Most | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Ed News, Tuesday, March 21 Edition | tigersteach

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