Friday, September 10, 2010

The Vocabulary Genius

Today, I had a big misunderstanding at work.
Today, a student left my classroom because I wouldn't let him use his cell phone. But it was more than that. Throwing his cell phone across the room. He left in a huff.

He went to the principal and told him that I was being cruel and mistreating the student. The principal came and pulled me out of the AP English class that I was trying desperately to understand some Old English version of Chaucer that seemed important at the time.

I left the classroom. Went into the hall. The principal allowed the student to vent. The student sat there for five minutes and called me every name in the book. He went on and on. I had no idea what to say. I had no idea what I had done to offend this kid. The principal didn't stop him, which, to me, seemed a little out of control.

After his rant he walked away to cool down. I went back into my class and tried to teach...the whole time wondering if I have chosen the wrong profession. After the class left, I called this boy's mother. We talked a long time.

She told me that he said I was mocking him and making fun of him.

I was baffled. I said, "But, Mrs. Student, I have only ever said one thing to your child in the few days I've had him in class. I told him he had one of the best memories for vocabulary that I have ever seen. I told him he was a VOCABULARY GENIUS."

"Yes, and he came home and told me that you made fun of him for being awful at vocabulary. He thought you were making fun of his lack of skills."

"I'm so confused."

"Well, the thing is, I just got him back from his father a few months ago. His father wasn't real good to him, you know. He sorta beat on him and left him to fend for himself lots of the time. And, well, I think he sorta thought you were pickin' on him cause he's never done real well in school. He's like, never really had no real compliments. So, I think he must of thought you were makin' fun of him."

"Oh." I said.


Nubian said...

WOW! I have no doubt you took the student aside and explained to him/her that you were praising him/her. You are a phenomenal teacher and your new students will quickly see that you are more friend than foe.

Just a 'titch' concerned that the Principal allowed the student to speak to you that way.

Stella said...

Yep. Me too.

And yes, this was ten days ago and the student and I are on good terms.

But, Nubian. I am REALLY questioning this job choice, location, and paycheck (which is no where near my last job).

What else would I be good at? Let's decide my life for me.

By the way, I owe you a phone call!! I just remembered!

Lori said...

Wow! This made me cry. So sad. This is why I know that teachers have such a job of teaching...teaching these young souls that come from so many different backgrounds...some come to you teachers so wounded. I am so thankful you didn't just brush this young man off. Thank you for being you! XX

Jenny said...

This story is so sad. I'm sad for him and I'm so sad for you too. I feel bad for kids who are going through absolute hell in their home lives and then have to come to school and try to succeed.

As for how he treated you, he shouldn't have been allowed to scream at you. I would confront the principal about that. You don't want that repeated.

Andrew S said...

The family issues in the later part of the post was totally unexpected.

And as other mentioned, quite the downer...

Holls said...

Poor kid. :( It's amazing how people can take a compliment and completely misconstrue it as an insult because of what they've experienced in life.