“Today in class Math class, (INSERT STUDENT NAME) had another outstanding day. He started out by adding to his self-made drawing book titled “Book of Demons”. I think I saw my name on one of them as well as all of his other teachers. Then he nearly broke a sweat NOT writing any of the notes and formulas needed for today’s lesson. He sang opera on two different occasions and continuously wiggled his hands and then would slam one hand down into the carpet. I asked him what this move was because it looked much like Iron Man when he lands from a flight. He simply said it was just a little something he has been working on. I left it at that. He then got kind of crazy and almost did a math problem, but came to his senses and quit before finishing it. Then there was an additional encore opera performance directly followed by some minor foot surgery where he peeled his shoe and dirty sock off in order to dig at a sliver between his toes.”
Does this sound familiar to anyone? If you have been a teacher for any amount of time you probably have experienced a student like the one described above. These types of students can suck the life out of you on a daily basis. Then if you have the good fortune of 2 or 3 or 4 of these students in your class at one time-Yea Haaaaa!!!
Where do you begin when this is the student you have been dealt to teach? A student that is bright, but eccentric. Doesn’t qualify for additional services, but doesn’t fit the traditional norm of the classroom. Truly marches to their own drum regardless of the rules of the environment around them. It may sound crazy, but you cannot worry about academics at this point. You must start where you do with any student…the relationship. Make it a point to talk to this student every single day about anything other than school. For this example, talk to them about the move they were doing in class. How did he get the sliver? Ask them what they like to do. Slowly begin to peel through the layers to see the good in the student.
Do not think that this is the green light to not hold them accountable. They must still be taught and held to the rules of the classroom. When they disrupt the education for the other students, remove them from the environment briefly, seize the learning moment and allow them to begin again at a later time. Maybe that is later in the class, maybe it is the next day.
These students are complex and bring challenges that cannot be conquered quickly. It takes time, dedication, patience and a whole lot of grit to get the job done. But you can do it and you will do it because you are a special, highly-skilled professional. Its what you do. Its what you do BEST!