Z is the kid that nobody wants to sit beside. Some of it is a result of his past behavior. Last year when I had him, he could sit still, but he was interactive and engaged as long as you refocused him. Now he is quiet and withdrawn. It sucks when you're disliked at school even by your teachers. His teacher for the prior six months is also my co-worker. He is supposed to have a teaching liscence and what not, but that didn't prevent him from yelling at Z. I class one day to see him running and crying from the classroom. Said co-worked had vented his anger and frustration out on this kid.
The fact is, some kids don't just get picked on by their peers. They're singled out by the teacher too. Last week the girl I put him beside, didn't want to sit next to him. She told her mom and her mom came in and asked her to move him. I wasn't there, but when my co-teacher tried to move him, she said that nobody wanted to sit next to him. She said, she solved the problem by putting a chair between the boy and all the other students.
This kid already feels isolated. I suspect that he either has ADD and/or his parents are as involved as the other student's parents. Point in case, he comes to class with no bag and no book. These are first and second graders and I know most of their parents pack their bags. But ADD and the inability to focus could cause him to simply forget his after school books at his elementary school.
Anyway, I explained to my co-teacher that you can't isolate a student like that. If there is inappropriate behavior to other students you can do that for a short time, but it also depends on the kid and the circumstances. A kid who is acting out because of being bullied will only get bullied more when the teacher moves them. In this case, the kid is not acting, or doing anything bad. In fact, his only problem is being at the bottom the class. He was doing better before though. Now, he's just shut down.
I think teachers can forget that the kids see what they do and model that behavior. That means when a child is having a hard time conforming to that particular classroom culture, and the teacher caries around this attitude toward that kid, everyone else picks up on it. But not only are kids aware of it, they duplicate the attitude of the teacher toward that student.
It's unlikely that the teacher can see this, though. Even the best teachers are only human and if they're frustrated and don't have the tools to deal with a particular behavior.... what happens to the person the child is?
I read a blog post about saying something kind everyday to every student. You don't have to lie to them. You don't have to say they did a good job when they didn't. But kids need to a least fee liked by their teachers. But saying something kind... it might be the only kind thing that child hears. You just don't know what their life is like.
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).