Wasted Time

I spent Friday afternoon in an inservice called Reaching the Disinterested Student. The woman presenting, Lynne Weber, was fabulous. Well worth my time.
Except…
I’m pretty good at reaching these kids. They’re often my favorites. I know it’s wrong to have favorites, but it’s an amazing thing to work with a kid who says I can’t and watch them start to believe I can.
I had this incredibly smart guy in my intro class this semester. He never passed classes, but he had a ton of great ideas and when we discussed student rights, the first amendment, the importance of the press, I could pretty much guarantee he’d actively participate in the lesson, even play devil’s advocate when necessary. Talk about higher order thinking.
The problem was he hated writing. He told me he couldn’t do it. He started coming in for tutorials and I realized he wasn’t joking. He physically couldn’t write. Not easily anyway.
So I told him to stop trying. To use the computer and to never try writing with a pen in my class again.
Once we jumped that hurdle, it was easy to show him the greatness of journalism. One-two sentence paragraphs. Stories built around what other people say.
Easy.
As was evident in the three complete stories he turned in in one week.
He had to make a 100 on the last assignment to pass and he did. (Okay. Truth is, if he hadn’t made a 100, he would’ve passed, but I didn’t tell him that!) One of two students in my intro classes to make the 100.
I’d say I spent at least an extra hour a week with this kid. At least.
And he did it. He passed. He learned. He contributed to the class and found success. Something he’s not all that used to.
Great teaching moment.
Until Monday. When he didn’t show up for class. And then Tuesday. And then Wednesday.
So I e-mailed his counselor.
And learned he’d been allowed to drop the class EIGHT weeks into the semester, even though he passed. Without my consent. Without even a, “hey, by the way, this kid wants to drop journalism.”
What I want to do is pick up the phone, call his mom and say the education system is trying desperately to deprive your son of learning just because he doesn’t want to work and learned he could get in a study hall and sleep. But since he’s already dropped the class, I can’t very well do that. Because now, if he comes back into my class, he’ll be resentful and angry.
I can, however, stop by the counselors office on Tuesday, talk to the administrator in charge and vent. You better believe I will.
And I might end with something like this. I don’t know how much you spent bringing in the incredible speaker to talk about reaching the disinterested student, but until everyone in this office believes it, you’re wasting your money and my time.

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