George Bush’s major contribution to education has been No Child Left Behind. I’ve only taught for four years, so most of my experience has been during the years of NCLB. I also had one student who got lost during this time. It’s one of my great regrets as a teacher.
The One Who Got Lost
Thomas came to me my second year of teaching. I worked a special program for reading disabled kids, and his Middle School teacher contacted me to let me know he was coming. “He drives everyone else nuts, but I just love him,” she told me. I knew exactly the kind of student she was talking about.
Thomas was one of my only African-American students, and was an excellent basketball player. Some coaches from the affluent, white school had recruited him to choose their school rather than the one in the district that most African-Americans attended. Thomas was classified “emotionally disturbed” which meant that he had suffered some sort of emotional trauma which caused him to have behavior problems. Thomas was never violent, but he was easily angered and would shut down without much provocation. His learning disability had only been recently diagnosed and he was eager to work on anything that would improve his reading. Other than that, his main reasons for coming to school were basketball and his friends.
Early-on I had a power struggle with Thomas and definitely came out on the losing end. He was never ugly, but if he did not want to do something than he would not. I quickly learned that it was better to ignore him if he was in one of his moods. Usually he would eventually get back into the lesson and participate. I suspect that he was very wary of being made fun of, and would only participate in activities in which he knew he would be successful.
His first year of school, Thomas basically stayed out of trouble. He was occasionally sent to detention, but nothing too serious. His sophomore year of school would be a different matter.
To be continued. . .