Finding the positive in a negative child.

I have a student at Sylvan who struggles with a negative attitude, towards me, specifically. He has never had to study in his life and can read faster than most college students, and is yet in our study skills program, 3 days a week. He never enjoys coming to Sylvan, especially because he has had me as a teacher the last 5 hours. He moans at the door when he finds out he’s at my table, and mutters under his breath as he walks towards me.

Today I asked him why he dislikes being at my table. He replied that he’s not allowed to be lazy at my table (he WILL get work done when he’s on my watch), and he has had me “a million times in a row.” I do not fit his 6th grade, be as lazy as possible, be as annoying to his siblings as possible , world. As I gave him a challenging assignment today, he muttered under his breath “I hate you.” Knowing that this was more directed at the fact I was making him work, rather than me personally, I pretended I didn’t hear and told him to get to work. Another point in the 2 hours he was with me he had to be reminded by another teacher to be respectful, or a call to mom may be made.

It would be easy to let this student defeat me. It would be easy to say never put him at my table again. But, the very reason why he “hates” me, is why I know I’m being successful. I’m making him WORK for once in his life. I’m making him keep up with his planner, stay organized, and actually think about the 365 words per minute he reads. He now knows strategies that he may not use until high school, but won’t be forgetting because he had to practice them. In addition to equipping him with the study skills he’ll need for his future, I’m, hopefully, equipping him with the ability to hold his tongue and change his attitude. And, although he will probably never recognize what we’ve done, or say thank you at the end of an hour, I know I’ve made a difference.

~Amber Joy

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