A Small Gesture
Things are really coming together. By my own AP's admission my class is filled with "the worst kids." Back in September/October I felt the same way. But I realized that I was using that classification as a crutch. As long as I believed the kids were horrible I didn't have to take full responsibility for their behavior. Nor was I really thinking about all I was doing (or not doing) to engage them and minimize misbehavior and distractions. Now, with spring arriving I feel like a completely different teacher in a completely different classroom. And now accepting that I have a very difficult group makes that progress so much greater.
But while I am seeing enormous progress in pretty much all my students, Woman-Child continues to frustrate and confuse me. In many ways her behavior resembles ALP (see here as well). Luckily since he left my classroom I've learned a bit more about dealing with this kind of behavior. She is still disruptive at time, and definitely knows how to push my buttons. But more than everything I just feel bad for her, because I can see she is smart, but she does nothing to meet her potential.
I've tried pretty much everything I can think of. Providing incentives. Taking away privileges. Giving her responsibilities. Barking orders and talking gently. Every approach usually yields the same roll of the eyes or just straight laughter.
Now I know that she is going through hell at home. Also I realize that she suffers from very low self-esteem. By now I've also learned all these kids the misbehavior is some combination of disengagement (either the work is too easy or too hard), a need for attention and a struggle for power. Even after acknowledging all these factors I haven't figured her out.
But I have one last idea. What I'm trying to do now is find some small gesture I can make towards WC, some way to show that I'm on her side, that she doesn't have to fight me at every turn. For now I'm trying this with quiet, private conversations. I'll keep looking for new ways to get through to her. In the mean time, I'm happy to look back at September and realize how far my class and I have come.