Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lessons from the one that leaves first...

It's never easy losing a student.  It's not even really easy when it's the hardest student in the class.  But it's rarely the most difficult child that leaves. 
I have notice that one of my students is moving and tomorrow is his last day.  I've known for a couple of weeks, but to have the date of departure looming so close is disheartening.
This child is a great kid.  Socially, the kids respect and look up to him and that is a good thing because he is a great role model. Academically, he's right where he needs to be.  Asks all the right questions, is not afraid to try and is just an all around great kid. 
As much as I want my class size to go down I hate losing students to accomplish that. 
I was telling my husband that the student was leaving and he asked who.  When I told him the first name, my husband noted that I had never spoken about that child at home.  My quick reply was that of course I hadn't because this kid was an easy kid who didn't test my patience. And that stopped me cold.
How terrible is that? To not be able to spend time reflecting and improving my teaching with the kids that are not challenging me.  When I come home and talk about my day it's very cathartic and leads to a reflection that improves my teaching.  So, with the class size I have this year and the number of students with intense behaviors, I have been so focused on the 15 that are driving me insane that I fear I am not giving enough to the kids who come in and do what they need.
How much better of a teacher would I be if I reflected on my work with the kids that were at grade level.  Isn't that where my teaching should be focused--my expectations should be the same for all the kids.  If I spend so much time reflecting on students who need more to produce less, am I also lowering my expectations for the others. 
How unfair! How biased! How do I fix it? 
As this student leaves my classroom this week I have so many hopes for his next school experience: a teacher that focuses on him as well as his peers, a class size that allows him to experience relationship, and high expectations from all the adults in his life so that he can rise to them. And for the students who remain.  I have the same hopes--and the challenge is on me to create that experience for them.

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