Sunday, February 8, 2015

I'm scared you won't love me anymore

The hardest part of my job is and will always be when I have to give consequences to a student who has broken the rules. Don't get me wrong. I know it's necessary, but sometimes it's difficult when you know the background of the child. I have been working closely with a child whose home life isn't like mine. So sometimes it isn't easy to understand what he is going through. However I have tried to spend more time listening.  I wasn't sure I was getting through to him, but I kept trying. I take time every morning to speak to all my students, asking how they are and talking about what they did last night. It was interesting to see him struggling with this. I could tell he wasn't used to talking to adults while not being in trouble. As the year progressed the talking came a little easier and a little longer. His behaviors became a little less in quality and quantity. I could tell we were building a relationship. I started working with the child last year while he was in 5th grade and I saw a lot of improvement. Then summer hit. While most teachers love summer, as admin, I'm not a huge fan of what I know happens in the summer; lack of supervision. Students like this are often left alone most of the summer to do what they want with little or no consequences. So that means come August I have to start over with anything I made progress with last year. Well this August was no different. This student started the year with a bang. Even though I took time every morning to talk to him and let him know I was still interested in his life, I could tell he had changed. And not for the better. He was in trouble constantly and after many talks I finally got to the root of it. I realized the unsupervised summer had made some changes in him that I alone couldn't fix. I contacted the correct people to help but knew this was an uphill battle. We still spend time every week talking, sharing, and I constantly told him "I love you, have a good day."  But I wasn't sure I was making any progress. 
This Thanksgiving the language teacher had the students write papers or letters. This student requested to be able to write his letter to me. She agreed and noticed he was very secretive about it. When finished he gave to her to give to me. I was floored. I knew we had made a connection but I also knew his behaviors this year were not always good. I share his letter for a few reasons. One, you are making a difference in children's lives. Two, even if the "behaviors" seem to still be there do not give up. Three, that child is depending on you, even if he/she doesn't act like it. 

Dear Mrs. Moss,
Mrs. D is making us write letters about what we are thankful for and I chose you! I know I can count on you to help me if I mess up somewhere down the road and if I need anything I know I could go to you. You would be there! I know you think I'm not trying to change , I really am! I have already stoped some things, and you know what I am talking about. I couldn't have done it without you. It's not that I was scared you were going to tell my parents, I was scared I would have disappointed you and you would stop loving me! And I still fill like that sometimes but anyway I still need help to change my ways so don't give up on me!
Happy thanksgiving 

Wow! Talk about powerful. After a lots of tears I came to realize our job is so much more than test scores and data walls. Our job is all about the connections we make with the students, because without that we have nothing. Has he changed for the better? Some. But more importantly, I hope I have changed for the better. Take this letter and replace my student's name with "That Student" in your school right now. What would you do or say to that child if he/she wrote you that letter? 
 I tell you what I did... I told him to never be scared.... I will never stop loving you. 


  1. Monica, Thank you for not giving up on him! I totally get what you are saying about summer... sometimes I wish we ha a room in the school with cots so that we could keep the students with us 24-7. :-) (Which is why I want to start a residential school!) I think it's so important that the adults in the building take the responsibility to stay the course with students, even when we feel like we're getting nowhere or when the students seem to push us away. This absolutely cannot be measured with a test, and it will never appear in your evaluation, but we all know that you made a difference in the life of a child which is the ultimate success!

  2. Thank you for sharing this powerful and inspiring story!