Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bad Apples

Why do I always think of what to say once I'm away from the conversation? I hope to some day be able to stand up for ALL students at the moment it would make the most impact. I still have a long way to go. I recently heard someone talk about something that has made my stomach churn, and I wish I'd been able to say what needed to be said.

This person said something to the effect of...
"Sometimes there are bad apples in a class that can ruin the learning for the other children."

I could see what this person was talking about, but it was my position to listen and help, not correct. Next time I hear the phrase "bad apples" used in this context, I hope I have the strength to say the following...

These children you call "bad apples" are this way for a reason, and it's up to us, as their teachers, to find out why. 

Consider actual apples... 

~Some have not had the chance to mature quite yet. We need to allow them time to grow under out guidance and nurturing.

~Some have not had enough water or sunlight. We need to provide them nourishment.

~Some have been attacked by pests. This may leave scars. It is up to us to help those scars heal, and to look beyond them to see what else is inside.

~Some have been bumped and bruised. Why did this happen? It is up to us to find the reasons why, and to try not to let this happen again - at the very least while they're in our charge.

When it comes to the "good apples" in the bunch, consider what they can learn from those not as compliant (or perhaps not as fortunate) as themselves...

~At the very least, they can learn how to work with distractions. They'll most likely need to do this in the workforce.

~Better yet... (and the teacher should facilitate this)... they can learn to ask questions to get to know others better, and thus understand others better. It's called "empathy." Maybe once they reach out, they see what it's like in someone else's shoes, and possibly change a life for the better.

There are no "bad apples" in class. 

There are misunderstood children who have been managed instead of talked to. 

I hope, for everyone's sake, that if the teacher does not reach out, there are children in the class that will

Seek out the lonely children. 
Seek out the children who act out in class. 
Seek out those that "bring the class down." 
TALK with them. 
Discover their story. 
Nourish them by listening and attempting to understand. 
Help them grow. 
It's how we, too, grow.
It's part of being an educator. 
It's what we do.

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