As a human we get frustrated with things and are often pushed to the point of declaring, “I’m done with it!” For me this often comes when I am trying to fix something around the house. There are only so many times I can electrocute myself trying to fix a ceiling fan before I say “I’m done with it!” and call in a professional. I am sure all of us can relate and think of a time where our frustration led us to tossing in the towel.
However, as teachers we don’t have that luxury when it comes to working with kids. Or at least we shouldn’t. Yet, I have heard teachers say, “I’m done with that kid.” Now, I will freely admit there are kids who have pushed me near my breaking point and tested my limits and patience to the extreme. Yet, I never give in or give up on that kid. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to at times. For sure, there are students for who it would be much easier to write off and be done with than engage and dig in.
It is much easier to say I am done with a kid’s lazy attitude than engage and learn about why they are lazy or disengaged. It would be simpler to say I am done with a kid because their parents are difficult to work with than it would be to work to bridge that gap and foster a relationship. My life would certainly be smoother if I said I am done with a kid who continually fails in school than trying to mentor, teach and guide them. There are literally hundreds and thousands of reasons we should and could say I am done with a particular student. Many of which might be justified and indeed legitimate. Yet, is that the right thing to do?
If we say we are done, it means we give up. If we give up on a kid, we lose and we fail. This is not the kind of failure we celebrate and think of it as a great learning moment. When we say we are done with a child, we have failed as a teacher. No matter what a student does or says, we have to be there. We have to be there for them for the sake of any potential future they might have. In far too many cases, we the teacher, are the only individual in their life who cares about them and wants them to succeed. Regardless of how many times a kid tries to force us to give up on them, we can’t. We must try and persevere and do everything we can to keep at it. When we think we have nothing more to give, we go further and give more. We do this because we never can truly know the impact we will have on their life and if tomorrow will be the day it finally clicks.