Help with a difficult student..what do i do?!

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by NewbieTeach, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. NewbieTeach

    NewbieTeach Rookie

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    Sep 13, 2008

    I have a great class this year but ONE student is going to be the death of me. He is new the the district and came from a very low one. He is a VERY low student and doesn't do well in reading/math. I tried putting him in a group (with high students to help) but he wont work with anyone else. When he doesnt want to do something he puts his head down on his desk and refuses to do anything. I feel like i can not get through to this student. What do i do?! I tried talking to him..i said if he gets frustrated he can "take a walk" he takes his tests at another table to be away from other students..Everyday he just puts his head down and cries and mumbles bad things under his breath..i just leave him alone when he does this but im afraid soon he might take his frustration out on one of the students..what do i do?! Help!!

    Ps. He is living with his cousins during the week and only sees his mom on weekends. He is from a spanish speaking family and im thinking he doesnt understand much english (though he does speak it well) I dont want to give up on him..he said that every teacher in the past has..
     
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  3. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Sep 13, 2008

    Does he receive any special services (ESoL at least)?
    If he does not, that is your first step.

    Does he read English well? Reading and speaking are 2 different things. I would try alternative assignments for him. I know both my reading and math series come with ESL activities. They are easier and help build their English skills. I would try them and see if anything improves.
     
  4. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Sep 13, 2008

    Oooh Newbie, that does sound like a tough one. I have absolutely no experience with ESL but I think what giraffe said about reading vs. speaking is really interesting.

    I just wanted to say that I think it's cool that you tried to find out as much about his home life as you could and that you're considering that when he has his off moments. It's so easy to just write a student off and say "Eh, if he doesn't want to learn then fine." But to find out what's making him tick and let him know that you understand, that tells me that you really do care - and I'm sure that he is starting to realize this as well.

    The only thing you can do at this point is to find some sort of motivator for this kiddo. What gets him going? What subjects does he love/hate? Have you considered a behavior contract? Something simple, like "If you do your social studies work in class with the rest of the students for the whole week, you can have a free homework pass" or some other incentive/motivator. Then make sure he knows this is between you and him (so he doesn't share the incentive with the rest of the class).

    I've done the behavior contract with a difficult high school student before. He would never bring his supplies to class. So I wrote up a contract. It stated that each day he brought his materials to class, he would earn one point. When he got five points, he could come into my office inbetween classes and get a piece of candy from my stash. OR, he could save points and if he got ten points, I would give him ten credit points toward the next test he took. This was a big incentive for him. He began bringing his materials to class every day!
     
  5. myangel52

    myangel52 Comrade

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    Sep 13, 2008

    In addition to what Giraffe and Zoom have said, I would talk to your school counselor -- they might know of other resources that your school has, or has access to, that may help this student.

    I don't have much experience in this situation -- most students that have that kind of difficulty never make it to my room because of special services (math is usually one of those pullouts... at least here). Hugs to you, and good luck!
     
  6. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Sep 13, 2008

    I would speak to your other fellow teachers and try to help him help learning English and extra tutoring in the subjects he's having problems with. I would also speak to your guidance counselor about him in case he needs some emotional counseling.
     
  7. Hazel QT

    Hazel QT Rookie

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    Sep 14, 2008

    Wow. He really seems like a hard one to come to grips with! However, you could just try to see where his head and see what he is feeling inside, even if he has to write it in a journal. Try talking to him at his own pace and eventally he will probably give in to you. Sometimes students like those are really searching for someone to love them and care about them but they just don't understand how to allow their feelings to be revealed to the person they feel most comfortable with. Now if you feel as if you can't get through to him, send him to the counselor.
     
  8. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Sep 14, 2008

    I think the others have given very good advise. I would like to add a few things. It's likely that this child knows how far behind he is and has given up on himself. I see this sort of thing all the time with my parents foster kids. Most recently, they took in a sibling group and the 12 year old boy was completely illiterate (I mean couldn't even read words like cat, dog, can, etc). Every time my mom would work with him on anything, not just academcis, he would pull something very similar to what you're describing. He would pull into himself and refuse to do anything, or attempt to go to sleep. My mom, of course, has seen this before, and imediately went into her "build up" mode. This child, like so many before him, had such low self esteem he didn't consider himself worthy of an adult's time in teaching him, so he just shut down, reinforcing that he was "too stupid" to learn anything. My mother's method of dealing with this issue is to build the child back up little by little, complimenting the child on anything and everything she can, even if it's just remembering to use a napkin at the dinner table, or some equally mundane accomplishment. Catch him when he does something right, and catch him as often as you can. This is especially important with school work. Even if the only thing he did correctly was write his name, that's a start. If he participates in class, make a big (but not too big so as not to embarrass him) deal out of it.
     

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