Friday, September 21, 2012

People-Watching, Junior High Style

This Friday, a few more random observations from the teen-trenches, post-Parent-Teacher-Conference edition.

Sometimes when two teens don't get along, it's mega-obvious. Like, their proximity to each other includes a DEFCON 1 alert. When two such teens are put in the same class, it's my lucky job to keep it from coming to blows. (One such crisis averted yesterday ... I'll save the sigh of relief, though.)

Sometimes when two teens don't get along, you'd never know it to look at them in class. One parent said something about one friend of her child hating another friend in the same class. I never, ever would have guessed, so I guess they're good at faking it. Whatever's behind it all, I appreciate the lack of drama.

Some parents will tear down a good kid. No, the kid isn't perfect, a few things can be improved, but on average, the kind of kid you'd want to have.

Some kids try to tear themselves down, and it's up to the parents (and me) to talk them off the ledge, convince them there's nothing wrong with having an A-minus at midterm.

Popularity is a weird thing. So are cliques. I have a good rapport with a lot of kids who are similar to me at that age (so, the shy/quiet, slightly awkward, not-so-confident geeks). I also have a good rapport with a lot of kids who are at the highest echelon of the social system (this includes some geeks of a different kind). I am much more popular as a teacher than I ever was as a student, which kind of warps my brain.

Some of the most awesome kids are those who cross those social boundaries as though oblivious to their existence.

Most parents are on the teacher's side, because they know the teacher's on the kid's side, whether the kid thinks so or not. (At least, that's how it should be, though of course there are bad teachers out there, just as there are bad parents ... as noted above.)

Most teens know what they should and shouldn't do. They know all the great reasons for such things. That often doesn't stop them from doing what they shouldn't or not doing what they should. And they know that, too. Knowledge may be power, but it's no substitute for willpower and self-control.

One of the saddest things is to realize I have more faith in a student's capability than their own parent.

One of the greatest things is to see the relief in a parent's eyes when they realize I share their belief in a struggling student's potential ...

... and it makes me wonder if they had teachers in the past who wrote that student off.

I hope I never get to that point. Even on the days when the student tries their best to convince me they're a hopeless case.

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