Thursday, March 13, 2008

Teachable moment #8.

Kid sits down in the front row. "Okay, everyone, take out your workbook"... I started out. Kid starts to look in his backpack, and then sits back in his chair, dejected. Then he looks at me.

"I am fu¢#ed," he said.

I wasn't sure I'd heard right. "Pardon me?"

"I'm fu¢#ed," he said again.

A slight gasp, and then quiet. Everything I am, in working with these kids - these kids who have been kicked out of other schools and classrooms, depends on how I handle moments like this.

"I assume that you've forgotten your workbook? "

"Yeah. That's why I'm fu¢#ed."

"You know, Mike," I started, "there are better ways to express to me that you are, apparently, in quite a pickle. They may not be quite as satisfying, but they won't piss-off your teachers or your parents or get you written up, either."

"Like what?" He seemed genuinely curious

You could say, "I'm eff-kayed," said the student next to him, helpfully.

"I'm fudged!" exclaimed another.

"I'm uck-fayed," said a third.

The classroom was a cacophony of suggestions. "I'm up crap creek without a paddle!" "I'm screwed!" "Life sucks" and of course, "Is there homework tonight?"

"Well, now, there you go. See, you learned something. Can I assume that I won't here you use that expression in front of me again? And you know I have to report this in your behavior log, right?"

"Yes. Sorry. I won't use it again."

See there, they can learn. Your tax dollars at work. No need to thank me, it's why I'm here.



  1. Love it. Solid example of how to get a behaviour you want from a kid without blowing your lid. Nice job :)

  2. Sorry. But I am cracking up! Too darn funny. My bro is student teaching honors history. He had a complaint that he was too hard. The principal is honors history, it is supposed to be hard. Kids!

  3. They ARE SO LUCKY to have you.

  4. Kudos on your success; that calm response did make a difference.

    On this same topic: I feel old. Do kids swear more nowadays or is it just me imagining that we were so much more innocent in our day?

  5. They swear more. It is ubiquitous. I suppose the fact that words like "asshat" and "crackwhore" are on prime-time TV doesn't help. Plus several of them have been in jail already.

    But even the "nice" kids use the F word pretty liberally out in the halls, and when they think no adults are listening. They just tend not to let it slip out in front of the teacher.

  6. Thank goodness there are teachers like you. If we didn't have them, we'd be f--, er, I mean we'd be in a pickle without that kind of level-headed dedication.

  7. This is coming from an early retired teacher who could fight the system any longer and got burned's one of the toughest jobs ever and WOW you really have the gift to get through to those kids. ADMIRATION to the tenth degree!!!

  8. In teaching communication skills to my kids with autism, I skirt groups of kids with my students and monitor greetings, conversation content and closings.

    What I hear on a daily basis from the "normal" population makes me wonder who the special ed. kids are anymore. "My" kids rarely use the language I hear from their peer groups.

  9. Way to lead them back on the good path.

  10. That was funny, Misty. Nice work on guiding them in the right direction.

  11. "So Jim, do you miss teaching?" Only occasionally. Really well done, and more importantly, a lesson it will likely take all of them a long time to forget.

  12. I often wish I had been a teacher. So many teachers made a difference in my life, and I hope you are proud of what you do. Know that you're making a difference in their lives.

    I get to teach adults for a living, and believe me when I tell you that kids are probably easier to deal with.


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