Donors Choose - Teachers ask. You choose. Students learn.

16 January 2009

Simple little words

As most of my readers know, my school is 100% special ed. Our two main populations are kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders and kids who are emotionally disturbed (ED). My students all have autism but I still interact daily with the kids with emotional disturbances, especially at the beginning and ends of the days during busing procedures.

One of the ED kids at my table in the afternoon, we'll call him Luis, is a seemingly ok-behaved 13 year old kid, but he definitely has his days that can escalate. Today was one of those days. He's a pretty big kid, definitely stronger than me, so physical restraint is out of the question. I don't know what happened during the day with his classmate but they got to busing and things were really heated.

I could tell things could get bad so I sat by him and asked him what was going on. Normally he kind of ignores me or gives me some smart-ass comment but today he was actually talking real to me. I'm not going to do a play-by-play of the whole conversation, but simply saying to this kid "I care about you and what happens to you" made a world of difference. Luis told me that no one cared, there's no way I could care, I wasn't even his teacher. It was hard to know what to say after that, but I just told him that he's too smart to be fighting like that and that because he's such a leader, he needs to work especially hard on his behavior. He was a little taken aback that I actually told him that, and I was shocked. These kids NEVER hear that anyone cares about them or what they do. Sometimes we think that it's implied we care, but unless you explicitly say it, they have NO idea.

And his response to my profession of care and concern?

"Yo, sorry I got mad crazy for a minute Miss A. If I knew you cared I woulda been better this year. I try harder. PEACE."

Oh kids.


Angela said...

That's powerful. Thanks for sharing. There's a kid in my class who DEFINITELY needs to hear me tell him explicitly that I care.

Joel said...

Wow. Thanks for that.

Mom said...

And that is one of the HUGE reasons you are such a wonderful teacher -