Every kid has a story. That's something I have to remind myself constantly in my class, because -- even putting aside William (who remains in my classroom, despite assurances from virtually everyone in the school that he'll be gone "any day now") and Julio (whose mother just sent me a lengthy form to fill out from a psychiatrist, hallelujah), I have some naughty, naughty kids in my class. But, unlike William and Julio, there's usually some kind of motivation for their behavior, and that's where the stories come in.
Jason is one of those naughty boys. He's so naughty, in fact, that his articulation card clearly stated that he shouldn't be placed in the same class as Julio (see: pants-wetting, tantrum-throwing and overall violent behavior). Wonder of wonders, I ended up with them both, and while Jason started out the year okay, lately he's been acting up. And by "acting up," I mean that (a) the tattle turtle received an anonymous note that read: "Jason tried to punch me in the face at lunch, (b) Jason passed a note to another student that read "dum dum," and (c) somehow the words "Shut up, crybaby" were deemed an appropriate response to another student playing a math game.
Jason is actually very bright, but he's also extremely lazy and a total whiner. I'd been communicating with his mom via e-mail, but after he broke out the "dum dum," I broke out the phone call. "What did he do?" she said knowingly after I introduced himself, sounded exasperated and affectionate at the same time. After speaking with his mom, I realized I'm so used to getting a total blank response from William's mom and excuse after excuse from Julio's mom that I wasn't expecting an actual positive response from a parent. That's when I got the story. Of course, it doesn't excuse the name-calling and the refusals to do classwork and the bordering-on-rudeness, but it does explain it a little. Jason's mom wrote me a long note today in which she explained Jason's side of the story but also conceded that "you never know with kids who's lying" -- a parent who's willing to admit that her child isn't perfect! How novel! And now I know that Jason is getting counseling outside of school, and we have a plan to keep Mom updated via e-mail.
It's not easy teaching a class of 27 kids, but it's even harder teaching 27 classes of 1 kid. But every kid has a story.