Stuart's Spectacular Students

This is dedicated to my amazing students. The goal is for each and every one of them to feel unstoppable by the time they walk out of the classroom door for the final time in May. This chronicles their journey; their own Chronicles of Self-Actualization.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Chapter 10 ~ The Power of The Parent - Kicking the Desk Out of the Way

Before I came to teach at my children's school (and a few years before the famous, "This is Sparta!" scene), I was sitting around a table at the inner city school where I taught. The purpose of the meeting was to see how we could help a student who kept failing, partly because he had severe ADHD but was unable to take medication because his body rejected all types of medicine diagnosed.

One by one, everyone around the table said how they were doing everything possible and that his failure wasn't their fault. The parents, divorced and full of animosity, began blaming each other. I spoke up and said he was failing because I was failing to reach him. I confessed I didn't know what to do, but that I would keep trying to find a way, and that it was my fault.

It was as if everyone breathed a sigh of relief and sent all of the blame into me. I felt physically sick to my stomach and wondered why I had said that. I felt dizzy as we ended the meeting and I got up to leave.

Outside the door the boy's father was waiting for me. He told me no one had ever taken the blame for his son's failure and began to cry. He put his hand on my shoulder and told me I had his permission to do whatever it took to help his son.

Three months later this student (who I'll call Ant, which would make you smirk at my "creativity" if you knew his real name) still wasn't paying attention or working hard in class consistently. The state tests were in a month so time was running out. I remembered what his father said so I mentioned that since Ant wasn't using his desk perhaps we should get it out of his way.

I told him what I was going to do might be a little scary, but I was going to try something that might wake him up enough so I could work with the real Ant that was capable of focusing and making sense of what he was trying to learn.

I asked him if he trusted me. Because I had his parents' support at home he believed in and trusted me too (the mother also came forth later and thanked me). I asked him to move away from his desk and said I was going to show him who he really was. What he was really capable of. That he had ALL the power and strength he needed ALREADY INSIDE of him.

Then I shouted, "THIS IS WHO YOU ARE!"..........and kicked his desk so hard that it flew across the room and smashed against the wall.

He had tears in his eyes, but so did his father. He was now awake, and alive. And I had the opening I needed to reach him and teach him.

Yes, it put me in a storm of criticism from parents of other students who didn't know why I did that and didn't bother to ask, but instead called me "mad".

But instead of kicking Ant out of the way as another hopeless cause, I kicked and smashed his limitations and excuses out of the way, freeing him from his slavery of ADHD. In return, he overcame his limitations and  BECAME something he never had been before. In one month he became so powerful he did pass the state tests and graduate into the 6th grade (by one point which makes me wish I had done it earlier).

As teachers it is our job to reach every single one of our students, to stand and fight. Most of us stop trying because we have one parent criticizing us. All we need is one who isn't.

(to be continued...)

(side note to remind myself that this was my 1,000th post on the Samurai Teaching blog)


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