I attended a conference today for a student who’s been struggling with the transition to high school. His mom told us several enlightening things:
- He has ADHD. (To borrow a phrase from Russell Peters, Quietest. ADHD. in the world.) He is also medicated.
- He came from a small, very strict, Christian school that he had attended since the age of three.
- He has to catch the bus at 5:51 in the morning and thus has a 4:30 wake-up time.
All things considered, I’d say he is doing very well for himself and I’m surprised that he hasn’t detonated far more spectacularly. But mom is not pleased with the low grades and thus the reason for calling the conference. We offered some suggestions and encouraged the student to advocate for himself, which is probably not altogether easy given his mother’s personality.
Several of my higher-ability students have expressed frustration with the school culture, and one student withdrew at the end of last week most likely due to the climate. It pains me to see students with so much potential miss out on the opportunity for free college credit because of other students who are goofing around and misbehaving. Forgive me, but I don’t feel like they deserve it as much. And of course, as a public school, we can’t turn anyone away and apparently cannot even make recommendations that this school is not a good fit for a child. (I’m thinking of the child with clear mental health concerns that most likely needs medication, therapy, and home-schooling.)
I suppose on the one hand, the higher-ability students most likely have more resources at home that will enable to succeed wherever they go. But the reality is that very few schools offer early college programs, and frankly I don’t think we should have to be a garbage disposal for Columbus. Do all students need a safe place to go to school? Yes. But do I feel like that is our main purpose? Honestly, no. Does that make me a terrible teacher?