I'm feeling a little nervous about the approaching new school year... Normally I'm quite excited to get to know my new students and figure out new ways of meeting their unique needs and how things are going to go with yet another new administrator peering over my head (hence my choice in the above Dilbert cartoon by Scott Adams), but this year I'm nervous.
Having heard that my druggie kid for next year has told one of my students from the past year that he was going to "fuck" me, I'm dreading yet another year of dealing with that kind of crap over actual teaching. Every year, I get at least one drug dealer and one drug user. The drug users are just sad, pitiful kids who fail and fail or else have their habits somewhat under control and just glide through the year with barely passing grades. The dealers, on the other hand, are sneaky buggers who have figured out how to escape getting busted not just in their dealing, but their copying homework, tests, getting girls pregnant and denying responsibility, beating up other kids, whatever. They end up sapping all of my time and energy trying to keep them within a five mile radius of the "right track" and I end up neglecting the kids who actually have disabilities beyond just having shitty home lives. Sadly, at some point a teacher felt sorry for his having a shitty home life and subsequent failing grades that they convinced everyone that the kid must have a learning disability of some sort. I'd go so far as to say that in my experience, I've had more kids end up on my caseload due to bad parenting than any other reason. Parents who do drugs, thieve, kill, and rape don't tend to produce kids who do very well at school and it has little to do with the child's actual ability. The kids may very well have been born with average abilities, but years of abuse or neglect can actually lower a kids ability range into a special needs category. Preventable and sad.
Every year, I make the choice to work with kids who come from troubled backgrounds because I love them to bits, but I despair at the realization that I'm no longer a teacher, but more a parole officer and substitute mother and feel ill-equipped to help them with their insurmountable problems. How do you fight a beast like this?
I feel like a hospice worker. I make these kids comfortable for a little bit longer before they either drop out or graduate and the big bad world bites them in the ass because they've not learned the skills to be decent employees anywhere. This problem is enormous. It's huge. And I can't wait to see what ideas my next new boss comes up with to get these kids to pass the damn standardized test. I'm sure whatever it is, it'll work a treat.
The good news is that once I'm in it, I put my heart and soul into it and do everything I can to do right by "my" kids, but it doesn't stop my wondering what's going to become of some of them a few more years down the road.