I was having a conversation with my roommate and best friend about her internship experiences so far this semester. What she does is work with students who are “high risk”. The way she told me was that she deals with the bad kids. I was immediately taken a back. Mind you my roommate is not going into education, but I stood on my soap box and had a moment. Because these students who are at a high risk of dropping out or practicing illegal activities does not mean they are “bad kids”. She explained that these kids are being sexually active at a young age, smoking cigarettes, doing illegal drugs, consuming alcohol, and doing bad academically. All of this behavior has an explanation besides these students just being “bad”.
I think this is why teachers give up on troubled students. These students are already going down a dark alley, so why bother with their academic and personal success? If they are already bad, what’s the point? Why teachers are letting these rhetorical questions persuade their actions is beyond me. I feel that those troubled students are craving for attention. They are seeking out for love and care that they are obviously not getting elsewhere. What better place for a student to get attention, love, and care than the classroom that they feel safe and comfortable in?
As a teacher, you may be the only bright person they have in their lives. Telling them that they did a lot better on a paper/exam/quiz than they did last time and to keep up the good work, may be the only encouragement they here in months. Teachers should not give up on these kids just because they have a rough life. Labeling students will only make them more of that label. Telling students that they are “bad kids” or labeling them as such will only discourage them from peeling that label off. If that’s what they are, why bother changing?
This is why teachers need to address all students. Do not give up on those who you struggle the most with. Even if they say that they hate you every day and they do not want to do the assigned work, keep up with them. You may be the only positive thing in their life and they just don’t know how to handle it. Keep in mind that you may not see the difference that you’re making until these students come back to you in the future, to thank you for being there for them, and encouraging them to be the great person that they became.