Sometimes, it can be painful.
For me, there's nothing worse than seeing a bright, capable student's life be ruined by the choices their parents make for them!
I have a little boy in my class. Lets call him M. When I saw his name listed under my class, I groaned. I knew him to be pretty unruly. I have this system in my class. I have these 4 boxes that you see in the picture above. I have all my students names written on Popsicle sticks and put in the first box. The label sticker on it says "very good". I work on the assumption that all my students are good and that they follow the class rules. BUT.... If they break a rule, then the Popsicle stick with their name goes into box 1. This is their first warning. If they break another rule, then the stick goes into box 2. If the stick goes into box 3 then they have to spend some time sitting on the "thinking chair" thinking about their actions.
It works well. Just as I expected (i am ashamed to say this now) for the first month of school, M had to sit on the "thinking chair" almost everyday! I knew he had a shorter attention span than most in my class and that he was the spoilt youngest son of his family. But then he started improving. I was thrilled with his progress.
Then one day he came to me, all sad and low and said his family was going to move to another country and he didn't want to. He didn't want to make new friends. He only wanted to stay here. I felt bad for him, but felt confident that his family would make him feel better about the move. The next day, he came to class all chirpy and cheery and announced to all that his parents had promised him a puppy when they relocated. The whole class cheered. From then on, everyday, he'd find some way or other to to talk about the puppy he'd be getting.
A couple of months later, at parent conferences, I mentioned to his mother that he was so excited about his puppy. She tells me nonchalantly, "Oh I just said that to him to make him feel better about moving. I don't think it will happen. I cant be cleaning after a dog too!"
I was shocked. How could parents do something like this??? I told her as calmly and as politely as I could of how disappointed her son would be. It's not in my place to tell a mother how to treat her son. This is one of those times I've felt so helpless!
Just today, I asked the same boy why he was so distracted in class. I asked him what he had for breakfast. (It does matter!) he says "Choco pie"!!!!!!
"Do you eat this everyday?"
"No. Sometimes I eat jam and chips"
This.... my dear friends is choco pie. Biscuits coated is sugary chocolate, with a sugary cream filling. Sounds nice, but a horrible, horrible choice of breakfast food for a 2nd grader on a school day!!! No wonder he was bouncing off the walls and couldn't get one thing done in class today!!
This is just one example. The other day, I found another boy who had brought 2 chocolate covered chocolate muffins as lunch to school on two consecutive days! Who packs his lunch? Mom! What did the same boy bring to drink on a field trip?? Red Bull!!!!! RED BULL!!!! A 7 year old!!!! When the parents were confronted what does mom say" "What can I do, he insists on eating and drinking only these!!"
One of my colleagues was telling me how sad it was for her to have to tell parents of her student to be proud of their child. I feel sad for these kids. I hope for them that the teachers who come into their lives leave behind firm, positive footprints for them to follow!