Have you ever had a kid in THAT class and your heart just went out to them all year? I mean, if you could have one slight reprieve from all the discipline problems, you would march them down to the counselor's office and personally request that they be moved to another, more sane class. Those kids are sneaky. They need you in a less obvious way and are the ones we most quickly take for granted. I call these kids my floaters.
Floater (noun): one who is neither a behavior problem nor an honor student, likely does not have a serious need for tutoring and sits toward the back of the class.
If you identify and commit to these kids early, they are ones that can experience substantial growth during your year together. So that can be done for your floaters?
- Seek them out. They are likely not going to strike up a conversation with you and might not respond well to your friendliness initially. These kids are used to being ignored. When you talk to them, you're rocking their world. Give them time. Give them jobs that give you both the opportunity to talk. Find out their hobbies and interests; comment on a favorite teams win, the latest person voted off their favorite show. Notice a new pair of shoes or a haircut. Just make it very obvious that you see them. You notice them. They are important to you.
- What can be done for the kid in the crazy class? Let them know that they are appreciated. On a particularly negative day, drop a post-it by their desk that tells them thank you for always doing what is asked. They get frustrated by the behavior problems too. Taking the time to drop a quick note allows for positivity in a sea of negative. You also might just gain an ally- what a wonderful thing to have when you feel like your class is temporarily against you.
- Sometimes floaters are your shy kids. They don't want to be praised publicly. Their greatest fear is for you or anyone else to make them into a big deal. That doesn't mean they don't need and deserve affirmation. Consider choosing a couple of kids each week, Six Weeks, semester...whatever...to write a kind note to. You can give it to them personally or mail it home to ensure Mom and Dad see. Maybe consider the kid- what it mean more coming from you or could they use some points at home. Check out this post for more ideas and a like to a fun What I Like About You printable.
My challenge to you and myself is to identify and commit to my floaters early on. Start building those relationships first before meetings, tutorials, and stacks of papers make it more difficult. Every student needs and deserves to be valued in our classrooms.