Billy came to class a few times and then started missing too many classes. I happened to run into him on my way home on one of his missed days. He was talking to a former English teacher who really likes him and knows about his troubles in school. I asked Billy for his cell phone number and his mom's cell phone number and promised to use it whenever he wasn't in my class He supplied both rather easily and I hoped this meant his cutting days were over.
My hope was short lived. But, true to my word, I've been hitting the phone every day he is out before I leave. And, while he is still cutting, his cutting is down to at most one day in two weeks. I even got him to show up and take (and pass) an exam last week.
I was pleasantly surprised when Billy showed up Wednesday, before the vacation. I always try to differentiate so I made it a point to praise Billy for being in class almost on time (a goal for him to actually be on time is coming, once he masters getting to class daily), compliment him on passing the exam and asking him to try to do a little more work in class (another goal for him). Billy, while not a student, is very bright and articulate. He just looked at me and said:
I asked him about his mom's reaction when he cuts and he told me he doesn't worry much about it because he stays mostly with his dad.
"Mrs. POd, you know I am a cutter. Some days this is the only class I go to. I look at the clock and see I better get moving. You are the most persistent teacher I have ever had. "
My next goal (oh no, I used that word again) is to get his dad's phone number. After that, I've got to figure out a way to get Billy into all his classes.
Now I've got the buzz words in place. I set goals that I shared with my student. I raised my expectations. I differentiated. I checked data. I can write them down, hand them in and make myself look like an educational scientist at her best. But, they would all be lies. I'm not accomplishing all that much with Billy. In fact, I am probably accomplishing nothing with him. I have strong reservations about his ability to pass my class and even stronger ones about his ability to pass the other ones he's taking. I don't know how to help him and words alone won't do it.