Any teacher with a number of years under his/her belt has had That Kid. When you have That Kid, you look like this, A LOT:
I have That Kid this year. It’s been a rough year with him. I swore he was going to be the end of my career, either because I was going to snap and quit, or snap and get fired. Luckily we’ve made it this far without either happening.
That Kid is oppositional, defiant, argumentative, disrespectful, difficult, exasperating, and uncooperative. He refuses to complete work, won’t keep his hands to himself, argues with staff and peers, back-talks, doesn’t follow directions…I think you get it.
That Kid’s mom just had a meeting with his IEP team yesterday in which she pulled the “Not my kid” card. “He’s never defiant or uncooperative at home.” Apparently, her definition of those adjectives is different than EVERYONE ELSE’S as she then proceeded to tell us all the misdoings that go on at home. They sound strikingly similar to what we see at school.
I’ve tried my best to help him to read, write, calculate, be a better friend, a better student, a better person. We’ve had long talks, arguments, staring contests, and even bribery. Needless to say, it’s been a long year. Actually, this is my second year with That Kid. He hasn’t mellowed with age.
Today, 173 days into the school year, we took a step forward.
This is the last week of assessing the students. Grades are due Monday. All teachers are shoving tests at their students to get those final grades, and the kids are wearing down. I spent the afternoon with That Kid trying to help him complete his four tests. Like…pulling…teeth. For both of us.
That Kid had gotten most of one test finished, opting out of the final question because he couldn’t think of the answer, declined taking the math test (his strong suit), and only took the social studies test because I was doing most of the work. He said, “All I want to do is take a nap.” With 20 minutes left in the day, I understood. He practically begged me to stop working.
I sent him on a bathroom break (an extended break, as he always plays around in there). While he was gone, and with the help of my trusty co-teacher, we set up his test to answer that one, last question. He answered, I wrote, he was done. With 10 minutes left in the day, I told him to grab a Chromebook (his most favorite thing, ever) and be done with testing for today.
That Kid got a Chromebook, packed up, walked over to my desk……and thanked me. Sincerely. “Thank you for letting me get a Chromebook.” And then he did something I will hang on to for the rest of my life. That Kid hugged me. A true, honest, heartfelt, hug. He has never hugged me before.
With 7 days to go, we did it. We made a breakthrough. We finally made that connection. That Kid just made my year.