My 4th period math class, of 20 kids, has been a real challenge this year. These kids are so damaged that all they know how to do is strike out at others: insulting others parents (yo mama jokes), tripping each other, calling each other horrible names, gossiping, stealing, lying etc.
I've felt overwhelmed because I don't know how to help them all. I finally decided to focus on just a few. The ones I chose were the ones that I felt I could still reach. There are 3 girls and 2 boys.
NOTE: Names have been changed to protect the innocent....
Amed is a super smart kid just hides in his shell most of the class. He can do the work and knows the answers, but is too scared to speak up because the others would tease him for knowing the answers. There isn't a dad in the picture and he has 3 younger sisters. He likes chess and wants to be an astronaut.
Kelly is a tall boy who wants to be a general in the army. He's involved with ROTC so that helps keep him in line. Dad is also missing from this family.
Dee-Dee is a big girl, who is very self-conscious of her weight and acne. She wears her hair long to hide her face. It takes her awhile to get a new concept, but once she has it, it's there for good. I think she's actually smarter then she shows and has just had her confidence dashed so much that she doesn't trust herself. Grandma is raising her and two older brothers.
Natalie and Lisa are two peas-in-a-pod. They are both ESL (english as a second language) students and are always together. Lisa speaks English better then Natalie and translates for her most of the time. They both want to do well, but in this group they just keep quiet. Lisa lives with both of her parents and Natalie is being raised by only her Dad, who doesn't speak any English.
After meeting with these kids privately and then forming a study group, they have chose to eat lunch with me most days too. It took until Christmas, but I finally got them doing most of their homework and the lowest grade point average of all 5 of them is a C+.
Our turning point came when during one of our lunches together, after they had spent most of the time talking about how the other kids were constantly teasing them about their good grades, looks, goals and whatever else they could find that annoyed them, I finally said, "Yah know, eventually you're just going to have to decide to LET THE LOSERS LAUGH AT YOU and do what you need to do anyway." They all agreed with me, but I didn't really think they believed me or it had sunk in.
Well, after I came back from my leave of six weeks, I was doing averages and realized that my five focus kids, who I thought would tank while I was gone, had the HIGHEST grade point averages in the entire class. When we met next, I congratulated them and Lisa said to me, "We all talked about it when you left and decided to LET THE LOSERS LAUGH and do what we needed to do anyway."
They actually heard me! I guess I make a difference after all.