Advice about students who have troubles at home

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by MathGuy82, Dec 3, 2016.

  1. MathGuy82

    MathGuy82 Companion

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    Dec 3, 2016

    Good evening,

    A little dilemma here... I have a couple of students from broken homes in my 10-12th grade Algebra classes. They say that they are hungry, tired because they can't sleep (due to drunkenness and other drama at home) so they won't work in class. They get free lunch and breakfast but they complain about the food or their parents drop them off after breakfast. They are nice students overall and I get along with them but these few students won't work. I think they are being true but I the biggest problem is that they veer off the class during in class collaboration by talking about their problems. I don't like my classes to be completely silent because I want students to help each other with problems when they are assigned work after I lecture. They have seen counselors, the principal, but yet nothing seems to help them. The principal/counselors are very supportive, however no one wants to kick them out because their home life is bad. These students actually dislike Thanksgiving/Holiday breaks because they have to go home. When I try to get them to work, it's always, "I can't, I'm too tired, too much happened last night for me to concentrate" At least I only have about 5 students like this in all my classes but would love some help from any fellow teachers here. Thanks!
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Dec 3, 2016

    Try to have healthy snacks available, if possible. Trail mix is awesome as long as you don't have any nut allergies in your student population. I'm also in favor of keeping some strong black tea on hand (it helps that I have access to hot water for that as well as for instant oatmeal). Even if it doesn't solve all their problems, it lets them know you hear them and are doing what you can to help them.
     
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  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 4, 2016

    While it might be a good idea to have some snacks on hand to show that you're listening and care about the students, it is not ok for them to be so disruptive because of it. At my old school most students had very hard lives and quite a few were homeless. While we were patient if they wanted to put their head down (sleep because they were sleepy or just take a break because they were thinking about all the stress and problems) we never accepted their situation as an excuse to talk, or be disruptive in any ways.
     
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  5. HSEnglishteach

    HSEnglishteach Rookie

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    Dec 5, 2016

    I think the best thing you could do for these students (and especially for the other students in your class) is to establish clear expectations for student behavior, communicate them clearly to students, and then hold ALL students, including these troubled ones, accountable for their actions. Hungry doesn't mean stupid. Troubled doesn't mean lowered expectations. You're lowering the bar for these kids. It's hurting them, it's hurting you, and it's hurting your other students.

    Just my two cents...

     
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  6. MathGuy82

    MathGuy82 Companion

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    Dec 6, 2016

    Excellent! Thanks for the comments. I just found out that these students will not be coming back next semester either since they are transferring do a different school. The principal and I finally told them what we expect and they aren't doing it so they will be leaving. I feel bad but am thankful that next semester will be easier for me and my other students that want to learn. After my clear expectations and many times seeing counselors/principals/detention, nothing worked. The principal didn't kick them out but recommend that this school wasn't a good fit to them and their parents and I couldn't be happier! Next semester I will be even stricter about expectations as I've learning over the years how important the first week of classes are!
     
  7. MathGuy82

    MathGuy82 Companion

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    Dec 11, 2016

    I agree with you Englishteach 100%. However, this is a kid that goes to administration and puts on a big pouting show and acts like he some of victim and wants everyone to feel sorry for him. Yet when he gets to class he does nothing except talk. At least this kid a few other trouble makers will not be in my class anymore next semester. I am so looking forward to it.
     
  8. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    Dec 11, 2016

    I got this idea from my mother, who teaches at a wealthy district that has suddenly seen an influx of students with weird home lives/difficulties. I always keep food in the closet that is completely free of common allergens (no nuts, no milk, no gluten, and this year, for some students, no strawberries or watermelon). My school almost qualifies to be a title one school (we are usually around 45 - 49 percent free or reduced lunch in a given year). I teach ENL and my students move around a lot, come from countries with rough economies and tend to have more socio-economic troubles than the rest of the school population. This year in particular we have several students on the radar with social services, so it's been an unusually rough year. I offer food to all of my students at the start of class or at the end of class if they want it. If one of my classes looks particularly emaciated (which I do have this year, the poor things), I keep any leftover dessert, snacks, cookies or whatever from home and feed them to -ALL- of my students. Kids talk, and you never want to short one class because they aren't as needy as other students. All students will love the snack, they might focus more and they'll show up to your class with more regularity. Just don't get them used to having extravagant snacks or to having snacks every day of the year, or you'll end up spending quite a bit of money out of pocket on snacks (that's one thing my school never covers). You also want to make sure the snack doesn't distract from learning, which is why with my little ones, I give them half of the snack at the beginning of class and half of the snack at the end of class. I also plan food days where I bring in food that goes along with our unit (pumpkin in a cup for fall, apple tasting/a science lesson for September/October and the beginning of school, Apple Teeth/sequencing for halloween, etc).
     
  9. MathGuy82

    MathGuy82 Companion

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    Dec 12, 2016

    Thank you sjnew15! I agree! I have thought about buying snacks for my high schoolers. I give out a treat about once every two weeks on a Friday while they are taking an exam. Since we are in a rather low income area, I also provide pencils and paper for those in need. However, I am worried a little bit about one thing. What I am a little afraid of it that if I give it to one or two students that really need it, everybody is going to want it rather if they are really hungry or just want to eat. I would feel terrible to give a treat to someone and deny someone else because I think they are lying. It will start getting expensive too. I know when I was a teenager I could eat just about anything anytime whether I was actually hungry or not. How do you do it fairly? Many of our students get breakfast and lunch for free and I tell them to come early and maybe save the breakfast for later. We also have many dollar stores close by and I say, go there a buy some crackers/chips to bring in with you. I checked and we cannot charge for snacks either. I wish high schools could have a little snack shop that served healthy snacks that students could buy during break/lunch.
     
  10. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    Dec 13, 2016

    I have heard of some schools having teachers who are designated to keep snacks for the entire school. Then, at certain times during the day, say, during hallway time, if a kid ducks into that classroom, they can get an orange, or, if a kid goes to the counselor's office, the counselor can give them a snack. I wouldn't get every teacher used to handing out snacks. I know when I was in high school I was too upset to tell anyone if I ever had to go to the office or the counselor's office (which I rarely did). Those people might have the authority to start a snack program. I would check your school's guidelines, though. The high school I used to work at was really low income (97% free and reduced lunch) and it had a weird food policy. Kids were not allowed food in the classroom. Just check with your school handbook before doing any of this. Plus, my mom didn't go out of her way to feed kids a whole lot of food, either. She would just keep clementines, almonds, or whatever she normally ate for lunch around so if the kids wanted it, she could give them a small piece. They would then feel guilty taking too much of her "lunch," so they would only eat a little. She also feels better knowing these kids are taken care of.
     
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