Monday, June 12, 2006

Failing Jamal

Jamal was a con-man. Granted he was twelve and not a man, but he was a manipulator. It took me a long to realize that his tears weren’t real and that his real problem was reading. He could not read. How he had made it to sixth grade? I guessed that the tears and his excellent acting abilities had a lot to do with his problem. But, he was reading at a second grade level. I had a lot of goals for him—since he was a challenging student. He had scored minimal on every MCT he ever taken in his brief academic career and I was determined to raise that score up. This was not an easy task—since he “claimed” to dislike me, my class, and the subject I taught.

There is a section is Wong that I wished I had read and really taken to heart before starting teaching (especially with 6th graders). He writes that teachers should practice 100 times in a mirror saying, “Because you chose to break the rule.” “Because you chose…” and “Because you chose…” If Jamal threw a spitball at me—it would be
“You are picking on me.” And “you just hate me.” And “why did you fail me?” Being sensitive to favorites—since I am never the favorite, I analyzed (quite seriously) my behavior and actions toward him. Nothing, in fact I gave him more chances than other students before he actually got the boot to the office. I had this strange policy of sending my discipline problems on special errands. I really didn’t have favorites and no student ever accused me of having them—except Jamal. Why did this student continue to think I simply hated him?

The level and severity of his reading problem, combined with his behavior problem and lack of trust in me made it nearly impossible for him to learn in my classroom. I called home. I sent letters. I had conferences. Nothing changed. I pleaded and ran after Jamal to stay after school. On the rare occasion when he would come in, he would rush to get make-up materials and never do the work. I would spend more time with him than any other student during class—to try and help him understand. Nothing worked and he failed.


Blogger BAMN!!! By Any Means Necessary said...

Ruth gave me the scores for last year's MCT. Update-- Jamal scored profcient in reading! I cannot believe it. And yet I can!!!! I feel like a million bucks (really). I didn't waste my year. Many of my students did well. Really well. Only 11 percent scored minimal!!!!

12:26 PM  

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