I hate to see a student look completely and entirely uninterested in what is going on in class. For the past few years, I've held back from saying and doing anything because of fear. I'm afraid the other teachers will judge me and think I'm just wasting my time on a lost cause. I'm afraid the student won't care and my effort to reach out will have been an exercise in futility. I'm also afraid that I'm really not doing any good by caring anyway. Am I really making a difference? At the end of the day, does my caring result in increased motivation or quality work?
I don't know why I've changed starting this school year, but I just have in an enormous way. I just care! I want so badly for these kids to see how they can improve their lives by learning. I want to show them how complex most of the things they do on a regular basis are and that it isn't that hard.
In one class I'm teaching, there is a student who is always there but not really there. He just doesn't seem to care about anything at all. I feel like a broken record telling him over and over again, "sit up," "pay attention," "pick your head up." And I'm not getting anywhere just saying those things. I'm not treating the cause; I'm only trying to do away with the symptoms.
So, I couldn't help it any longer. Yesterday, I pulled him into the hallway and spoke with him. I said, "I want so badly for you to do well. I want you to feel interested in being here. I also want you to succeed." Then I asked him, "Do you want to pass? Why do you seem so uninterested in everything?" He answered, "I do want to pass. I don't want to go through the same class all over again. It's just that I work every day right after school until late at night. I'm so tired." I asked him if he has time off. He said one day a week. It is so hard to say anything about that. He needs to learn, so how is he going to do it?
I don't know yet. I don't know what to do yet. But at the very least, he knows and understands that I really care. And I think he also really cares it's just figuring out how to get past a difficult hurdle now.