last friday, i substitute taught in a special ed classroom in ypsilanti that only had 6 kids in 4th or 5th grade. from my limited interaction with them, it seemed that these kids did not seem to have any trouble learning so much as they all had major behavioral issues and so was sadly reminded that there are such “dumping grounds” for students that are continuously given up on.
at one point, after one of the girls in my class gave me attitude all throughout the day, i pulled her aside. “listen,” i told her, “one of the most important things you can do this year is learn how to be respectful of others. and this isn’t something that will just help you when you’re in 4th grade, but it will help you in life. and i believe that you are capable of this. i believe that you are smart enough to know what behaviors are not acceptable.” when saying the words “capable” and “smart”, i saw a distinctive flinch, a flicker in her eye of surprise or disbelief. that broke my heart. then, she rolled her eyes at me. i sighed.
in the classroom, it is glaringly apparent that love is discipline. it would be so much easier when your students misbehave to ignore them, give them an A, and graduate them to become the next teacher’s problem. love is letting imperfect people fail you when you’re giving it all you got.