Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 29 2011

Direct quotes from my Brat

I love this girl SO much. She’s really funny, and totally uninhibited. She asks the most random questions, and has been the author or some of the funniest things I’ve heard in the classroom. Part of her reminds me of me when I was in the fifth grade—obnoxious and proud of it, with a totally loud, random sense of humor. One of the things that’s made me so fond of her is that for a while, I think I was her favorite teacher. When I joked with her best friend about how she must hate me for trying to force geometry into her brain, her friend said in all seriousness, “No, miss, she loves you. She talks about you all the time.”
In the hallways, she always used to smile really big and wave at me, and shout “HI, miss!” from wherever she was.
She’s incredibly sensitive and not really stable, and  is often in tears because of some friend-drama. But she’s fickle, and she cheers up if she’s distracted.

But she’s just awful. Awful! Rude. Mean. Demanding. She doesn’t understand what “interrupting” means (honestly) and if she doesn’t get your attention when she wants it, she shouts. In fact, she shouts just about everything she says.

UGH, this GIRL! Every time I come to help her, it’s:

“MISS, leave me ALONE.”
“Miss, I SAID leave me alone! I don’t know how to do this and I don’t want to know how to do it.”
“Miss, How many times have I told you, I can’t LEARN when you do it on the board!? I need you to explain it one-on-one.”
“Aaaugh, GO AWAY!”
“See? This is why I can’t learn anything, because you always take too long explaining it.”
“See? This is why I can’t learn, because you always ignore me when I need your help!”
“I can’t heeeaaarr you, lalalalaLALALAA, I’m not listening!!”
“Miss, I have never passed a math TAKS and I don’t want to.”
“MISS, how can you expect me to learn if you ignore me?!?”
“I just TOLD you, leave me alone. I don’t want your help.”
“I can’t learn in this class. I’m switching out of this class.”
“Augh, Miss, can I PLEASE just step outside for a minute? You’re aggravating me.”
“Miss, I’m getting mad, I need to go talk to Ms. Juarez.”
“Miss, can I please just go to Mr. Kobler’s class? He’s nice to me.”
“Why do you hate me?”
“Miss, why are you over here talking to me when I JUST said to leave me alone?”

Every once in a while, I’ll pull her out of class during my conference and teach her something she’s missed during class (because she was lying on the tables or had her pajama pants pulled over her head), and I tell you what, there is nothing more satisfying than when this girl gets it. But she’ll start rushing through everything and make a mistake, and if she makes too many mistakes, forget about it; she’s done.

Once, she finished up a tutoring session with me, and sighed,  “Alright miss. I learned something.” I thought that was Breakthrough Day for me and Brat.

Since then, however, this teacher has gotten control of her classroom (which to Brat means I’ve “gotten mean” and that I hate her). So we’re back to square one. No, square zero—being more consistent with management means making an enemy out of my Brat every day, and that means I no longer get the smiles or waves or the impression that she likes me.

I might just love this girl more than I love any of my other students, and I want SO much to be partly responsible for the sense of accomplishment she’d feel by passing the math TAKS. I need to figure her out, and find some way to get her to trust me and try this with me.

3 Responses

  1. G

    Stay with her…kids are like that sometimes…they try to act like they hate you when they are dying for your attention. Don’t give up on her…:)

  2. Somewhere on this blog there is a story about a boy who was another teacher’s “Brat” every day last year. He visits her all the time now. She’ll remember that you never quit and wether it’s now or much later, that WILL mean something to her. Try saying it out loud to her… to all of them – “You can quit me if you want but you can’t make ME quit YOU. No way. I believe in you. I CHOOSE to believe in you.” Working with older kids who have experienced so much school failure has given me some insight in to this… they remember the ones who never quit, maybe because they’ve known so few of them… XO Great to “hear” you are in such great space. Give a call when you have a chance.

    • Wess

      Oh, Melissa Tran, this is exactly why I keep you around. Can’t wait to talk to you!

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