No Really, Stay In Class

Jose Vilson Resources


After lunch, students drag their feet to class, chatting it up with friends in the hallway, taking elongated sips of fountain water, peeking into their former teachers’ classes, and generally finding any excuse to not go to their next class. Even as passionate, deliberate, and rock star-ish as I am, kids still do this for my class, too. Students after lunch drag their feet on the routines we established in class, like taking out notebooks and working on the “Do Now” on the board.

Generally, I can get students to focus on our work for the day, and into some meaningful classroom discussion, except for one or two.

With one in particular, I find myself having to metaphorically pull his ears to get into class. The arguments remain: “How come?” “Why do you want me in class?” “Because is not a good enough reason.” “Can I sit outside?” “Can I go to the bathroom for a really long while?” “All of a sudden, my head hurts. Can I go to the nurse and never come back?”

Most of the time, it’s more respectful than that, but it annoys the hell out of me every time. Early in my career, one of my friends told me, “Why spend time on the one or two students who don’t want to be in my class when I have 27 who do?” There’s a point worth exploring. Aside from all the planning, grading, managing, prompting, questioning, shifting, thinking, thinking, and thinking I have to do, I also pride myself on wanting students to come into class, especially if I can take one step into the hallway and call them out. On the other hand, because of all the energy I expend already, it would be nice if the students who need me to pull them in would meet me halfway into the door.

I’m still at a loss.

If we’re constantly in search of that silver bullet that works for 100% of kids 100% of the time, then we’ll leave more children left behind than we intend.

The philosophy goes: “If you teach one, you’ve done a good job.” Yet, if I teach 29 at a time while pulling in that one, am I really teaching 30? Can I be satisfied with only doing what I can? Do I understand the implications if I don’t step in as a math teacher and get him involved in higher-level math? Am I a sucker for my own idealism or is my realism the boss of me?

Until then, my mantra maintains that I rather they stay in class because, whenever the spirit moves them, I hope to be there, nodding and saying, “I knew you could.”

Mr. Vilson