Ms. Allen's Classroom

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 10 2012

“I’ve been bad for too many years.”

I am sure every teacher, no matter what or where or when, can attest that there’s always that one student.  The one that you just don’t jive with.  No matter how hard you may try, you just can’t find anything good about him.  (I say him because I also bet that it’s usually a boy…)  With this student every day is a battle.  They walk in hating you and no matter what, they remain hating you.  Perhaps this is the student that you sometimes hope will be absent.  When the student isn’t there, maybe, your lessons are smooth.

While many of my students are difficult and most of them battle me every day, my one student is Wayne.  Wayne and I fought for months.  When he walked into my room every day I felt like leaving.  He was rude, disrespectful and got the entire class off track.  He would curse me out, misbehave and break things in my classroom.  One day he threw me against a wall.  He was suspended every so often, but it didn’t help.  There were no redeeming qualities and we did not have an ounce of positivity in our relationship.

Although, Wayne also made me keep coming back.  Although there were days when I hated him, yes hated, I never succumbed to giving up on him.  He was the student that made me plan for hours and hours on the weekend, he was the student who reminded me that I needed to be better, he was the student who would, during a bad lesson, tell me that I was doing a bad job.  In a way, I appreciated his honestly.  Wayne humbled me.  He brought me back to Earth…and then back out again some days.  He dove me absolutely insane.  INSANE.  But then reminded me why I do what I do.

I spent months in this war with Wayne.  It was to the point where other students and teachers even knew that we, for lack of a better word, hated each other.  But one day in November it all changed.  Wayne, being his usual goof, challenged me to a push up contest.  And I won.

It was as if I earned respect after that.  The next day Wayne sat down and quietly did all of his work.  I was amazed.  It was a night and day change.  Suddenly, there was no longer a battle to get Wayne to sit.  I didn’t have to fill out disciplinary forms for him twice a day.  Frankly, I didn’t even have to warn him.  He even asked me for help.

Wayne still isn’t perfect.  But really..who is? But my stomach no longer drops when he walks into the room.  Now, when I ask him to do something he doesn’t curse me out (he doesn’t do it either though).  The other day I got frustrated and said to him “Wayne, why can’t you just be good.”  He replied quickly “Because I’ve been bad for too many years.”

I appreciate your honesty Wayne.

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Greater New Orleans
Middle School

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