Tuesday, June 12, 2007


A teacher saw me talking to L in the hall last week. She said "Why are you wasting your time talking to L? That kid is garbage." I just stood and stared at her for a few minutes before I could speak. I then said "L is not garbage. He is not a bad kid. He wouldn't harm anyone. He doesn't steal. He is always respectful. His only fault is that he doesn't like school. He's not a good student, but he is a good person. He is not garbage." She looked at me like I was crazy, half agreed with what I said and then walked away.

I've been teaching for a long time and can't think of very many kids (or any kids) that I have said something like that about. I wonder how a person like that can be in a classroom daily. What is she saying behind closed doors that can scar a child for life? Sure there are kids that do bad things but, as teenagers they are still growing and changing. Our jobs are to help them grow, not send them to the dump like useless junk.


CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Classrooms are not dumpsters, although some teachers think they are. Thankfully, you are not one of them.

17 (really 15) more years said...

I DETEST when teachers refer to their students in that way. Everyone has some redeeming qualities, and maybe, just maybe, if ONE person in that kid's life recognizes that, the kid will have something positive to grab on to.

I had a student about 5 years ago who teachers referred to as "a piece of crap". I found him to be a great kid- he was never anything less than polite and respectful to me. During one of the darkest periods of my life (when my father was dying) he came in one morning and brought me a single red rose. He simply handed it to me and said, "Good morning- I think you can use some cheering up". After he graduated, he would periodically come to visit me- one year, when I was working with my arm in a cast, he saw me and said, "Who did that to you? Want me to hurt him?"

Garbage? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

That's why I really don't want to hear other teachers' perspective of how students were (or how well the teacher liked a particular student) the year before. Some of these kids haven't had a teacher give them a generous listening for years.

Anonymous said...

Not only does "L" have a right to not like school, perhaps we should be looking at how kids in general are treated in our system. Maybe L is just one of those kids who doesn't do well learning in the unbelievable overcrowded, poorly maintained conditions at Packeminandscrewem High School. I teach very at risk kids, and so many times some kid commits an infraction or acts out in the hallway, and one of my more thoughtful colleagues will ask, "Is he one of yours?" My answer is usually something along the lines of I didn't give birth to him, and no he's not "mine". It's obnoxious and old. I always wondered at what point are kids classified as "garbage" just because they're not fitting in very well with the system. I see these kids as troubled, and in desperate need for alternative paths in their lives, not classification as a waste product. I also wonder how people who are able to call kids "garbage" can function as educators. I avoid people like that.

NYC Educator said...

Teachers who don't like kids are the worst. It's ironic to hear them label others as garbage.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when I hear labels on the kids at my school. There's one standardized boy who for whatever reason will listen to me and talk with me. Probably because I a) didn't back down the first day he was on the bus I was in charge of and defiantly cussed me the entire time until the bus came ~ I didn't react, just kept telling him to sit down, the next day he greeted me nicely in the hall, and he'll often seek me out to talk with, which leads to b) I listen to him, and I talk with him like a person. And one of the students in my class, our ADL teacher said she always thought of him as a pest and a pain, but seeing how I interact with him and take him in good humor (unless he's biting me or licking me) she's gotten a different perspective on him.

Good for you for standing up for L.