Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Being late is the least of this kid's worries!

Every year I make a list of my children, ranking them from greatest to least need, as far as support and services go. Out of 23 children I started with:

* 2 have moved away
* 5 I don't worry about at all
* 2 are in special education for over half the day
* 2 now get math tutoring
* 2 are now enrolled in the BIG SISTER/BIG BROTHER program
* 2 are getting reading tutoring after school twice a week
* 1 is in the referral process for special education services
* 1 is now receiving counselling services for depression
* 4 have their parents on their butts, have changed their attitudes and are doing much better
* 1 has her parents going through a divorce and we eat lunch together just to "talk"

....and then there's "LATE BOY (LB),"

LB comes to class late EVERY morning! Of the 71 days of school that we have had, he has been absent 23 days and of the 48 days that he has been here for, he has been late 29 days. This is not "tardy" by a couple minutes, we are talking "late" by 30-45 minutes.

The first thing I teach each morning is math (a 60 minute block), so of the 48 days he has been here, he has only had a complete math class 19 times. Are you surprised that he hasn't memorized his multiplication facts yet?!

LB is a very bright kid. Even though he is a second language learner, Spanish being the first, he does not qualify for extra services (ESL, Bilingual, special education etc.). You wouldn't know of his intelligence from his work, because he doesn't DO any work. He reads on a 3rd grade level (I teach 5th grade.) and has a lot of holes in his knowledge throughout the other curriculum areas. If I graded him on what he does in class he might squeak by with a D to C- average, but at this moment is failing because of all the work he has not done and all the test he has failed. I have called the contact numbers we have: 1. no answer 2. answering machine (leave message) 3. fax number 4. work (leave message) 5. aunt (leave message). I have sent letters: 1. U.S. mail (no response) 2. registered mail (no response). I have written notes: 1. in agenda and 2. in an envelope to go home. I have bribed with: 1. candy 2. extra recess and 3. computer time, if mom will just call or come in to see me. The principal has called and the counsellor has called and made a home visit. We have even made a referral for educational neglect to the CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES DEPARTMENT and the truancy office. STILL, NO RESPONSE OR CHANGE!

LB has a great personality, is friendly and will help when asked, but has NO personal motivation, what-so-ever. I figure since his family is not going to help him out he may have to do it on his own. So, I have had many a talk with him about his goals and dreams in life and what he needs to do to get there. STILL NO CHANGE! I have learned a lot about him: dad is in jail, mom works at McDonalds (double shift), there are 7 other people (siblings, cousins, aunts etc.) living in his home, he loves to draw and play basketball, he likes math, but hates to write, he hears guns being shot in the neighborhood at night, his brother is in a gang, the fifteen year old sister has a one year old and is pregnant again and he wants to be a police officer when he grows up.

Unfortunately, in the twenty years that I have been teaching, it seems like I have at least one of these a year. It is so sad to see these kids just fall through the cracks. It makes me so sad.....


AJ said...

It really is so sad. I work with pregnant and parenting teens and the things they tell me... man it would curl the eyelashes on weaker people.

I just pray. and pray and pray some more. :)

Connie said...

Keep at it, Tracey. You never know when those little bumps and nudges might take effect. It is an incredibly special mission for you.

Sheila said...

Oh, Tracey, that sounds so tough!

Here's the only thing I think I can offer you, even if it's not very useful.

We go to Africa a lot and work at an orphanage there. Why? Because my heart breaks for the kids who are being so abused and so abandoned there. But there are 20,000,000 of them. I can't help 20,000,000. But I can help a few, at this orphanage, and that's what I try to do.

When I read your story about LB, I see a kid with 20,000,000 problems (give or take some :). You can't fix all of them. You likely can't even fix 5% of them. So what I would do is just try to do one thing, maybe just one thing, to reach him. Maybe make it your goal this year to help him learn his times tables. Or perhaps make it your goal to talk to him recess and encourage him in his goals of being a police officer. Tell him what's required in terms of education. Make him think in terms of a plan.

You can't solve his problems. But maybe you can do one thing.

I'm so glad there are teachers out there like you who care!


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Kris said...

I can only imagine that it COMPLETELY breaks your heart for this kid. Just keep planting seeds, watering and shining sunshine on them. You never know if YOU will be the teacher that helps him not chose to be a drop out and in a gang. I can see it now...he becomes successful and looks you up to tell you that you changed the course of his future.

Keep it up!