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Whimsicali Whimsicali is offline
 
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Student who hates school
Old 02-12-2014, 07:34 PM
 
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I have a first grader and I'd like some feedback on how I might approach working with him. He's very sensitive, reserved, shy, unwilling to be put in the spotlight. He doesn't have much experience being in a classroom. I think I've developed a decent relationship with him since September, and he is talkative with me. But his attitude toward school is very negative. He talks about how he doesn't like school or what we're doing. When I ask him why he wasn't paying attention to something or not doing the work, he says he wanted something fun to do, or wanted to do something else. I get it, school isn't always fun.

Today I straight-forwardly said (though not angrily, just matter-of-factly) that his job is to be in school, and we don't always like our jobs, but it's still up to us to do our work and be involved in our work. He looked like he was going to cry, which of course makes me feel bad.

But in my school, we approach this age with a very gentle and kind attitude, and I agree with that. I don't want him to be miserable. I don't want to watch tears well up in his eyes. But today I really felt like I needed to give a reality check to him about being in school.

Anything else I could/should say? I meet with his parents every few months to discuss how he's doing, since they see the same reluctance about school, so we are in communication. But where does my job start and end? When do I say "that's all I can do."?

Thanks!


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Old 02-12-2014, 09:09 PM
 
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Personally for me, my job never really ends.. per say. I don't give up on children's learning, love and enjoyment of school.

I mean this with the most respect to you (because I know you CARE about your students, otherwise you wouldn't be posting here), I don't think telling him it's a job is the right approach. Children respond to what we do, they are excited when we are excited. We are constantly modeling behavior to our students. I would start with modeling positive, happy, interested behavior towards the lessons and towards school. I would then change the work he does, there is nothing wrong with allowing him the opportunity to do something different than a worksheet. Some may say, that's not fair to all the other students if he is playing a word game and they are doing a word worksheet, fair is not treating everyone the same it is giving each individual exactly what they need when they need it.

Ask him to self-plan. There is no reason why he cannot develop some of his own projects, lessons, and even make decisions about the curriculum (what he wants to learn). It would be beneficial to have all students not just this student in particular to fill out a little form about their likes and dislikes. Also, have them flip through science, social studies, art, music, and reading books. Ask them to record the things they are interested in.. make an effort to plan lessons that focus on these lessons. There are so many different things you can do to hit a standard and the best thing is... not only do you have to hit common core standards but enrichment is very important as well.

If none of this works, I would consider referring him to the social worker for an evaluation. If he is disengaged, it could mean he is depressed or something is bothering him. Watch out for signs and take the appropriate action if necessary.

Being a teacher is a hard job, that really never ends. Good luck, let us know how you do.
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Suck it Up
Old 02-13-2014, 01:14 AM
 
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I had a teacher when I was a little kid who would say Suck it Up, Buttercup! Whenever kids were whiny or cross or being reluctant. It always made me laugh and as a teacher I found myself saying it one day out of frustration. Lo and behold, it made the kid I was talking to squeal with laughter, stop crying, and get to work.

Sometimes...I think nowadays we are over-sensitive about kids' 'feelings' and such. I see a lot of coddling that is not in the best interest of the child.
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Contract
Old 02-13-2014, 05:44 PM
 
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Could you have a contract with him that if he does a certain amount of work he can earn some "fun time"? Fun time could be using Legos, using the computer, drawing..whatever motivates him. If it works gradually increase the amount he has to do before earning fun time. If other kids ask be honest, "my job is to help everyone learn. Right now X is working to develop his work stamina."
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Old 02-13-2014, 06:58 PM
 
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I think you are on the right approach. I agree that being a student is their job. I use this approach with my students and my own kids and it has worked for me. The year is half way over and I think your student does need a reality check. It doesn't need to be mean just remind him matter of factly... "I am sorry but remember just like mommy has a job, your job is to be a student." I also like the "suck it up buttercup" approach too.


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@Mercury
Old 02-15-2014, 10:34 AM
 
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Suck it up, buttercup! I love it!
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negative vs energy
Old 02-22-2014, 06:43 PM
 
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I agree with Mercury! I don't think babying the kids in our class will help prepare them for the real world. I have struggled with negative students before (and this year too)...even though I am energetic and happy, there are THOSE that just CHOOSE not to have fun and be engaged. It really brings me down and I find my mood changing...because I want all my kids to have fun and learn at the same time. Unfortunately the old saying is true that one bad apple can spoil the bunch. I feel like that some years. The majority of the class can be super engaged and on task...and then there's the one with his elbow on the desk, hand on his head, making faces or turned away from you. Or the little girl that just sits and scowls. I've tried contracts, I've tried the school counselor...but I don't know what to do either! I think if more parents had the "Suck it up, Buttercup" mentality maybe we wouldn't have so many complainers.
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Whimsicali Whimsicali is offline
 
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Thanks!
Old 02-24-2014, 07:41 PM
 
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Thanks so much for the replies.

I certainly spent the first 6 months super-upbeat and positive, and it's not that I'm NOT doing that still, but that was my feeling too: that coddling isn't really going to be helpful and once in a very long while, those things kind of need to be said.

Thanks again!
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