I feel frustrated. I feel down. I feel confused. I feel angry.
Today in my EDUC 340 lab at Wellington Middle School, I had the esteemed pleasure of working with Simon, a boy who needs no introduction at Wellington. All the teachers know him by face and name and all the teachers have had their fare share of “experiences” with the young 8th grade boy.
It all started when my lab teacher, Mrs. White, had my peers and I take a group of her students and discuss “The Stages of the Hero’s Journey” depicted in a really cheesy Arthur/Excalibur film(see below photos) we had just viewed. (Stages include but are not limited to: the hero’s calling, the refusal of the call, meeting the mentor, the approach, etc.)
I was really excited to be finally working with a group of students and not just sitting in the back of the classroom observing the little pupils. We went next door to an empty classroom and begin discussing the first couple of stages. I would ask them what they wrote down and then the students would talk about why they wrote what they wrote and also determine if they had the right answer based off of what their peers wrote down.
Discussion was going great, up until Simon decided to erase what had put for one of the stages: The Refusal of the Call. He voiced his disapproval of what everyone else had written down for that stage and I could hear the confusion in his argument. He just REFUSED to agree with the correct answer, but I might add that he came up with two other great ideas that could work. When I suggested that he write those down, he just stared blankly at his paper, dangling his No. 2 pencil silently.
I felt like I was speaking to a brick wall, only this brick wall would come up with ideas and argue with his peers, only to not move forward with the assignment. It was a challenge. It was a pain in my ass.
I had to push forward. The pressure was on. There were only minutes before the period would be ending and we hadn’t gotten past stage three of like ten stages. I was screwed.
I guess I should mention how great his peers were to have though…they ALL tried to help Simon and have patience with him, trying to come up with a solution- “Hey Simon, why don’t we get through all the stages and then we can come back?”
We would try to do this, but then Simon would say, “I don’t have anything written for the Refusal of the Call yet.” And then we would go through the same cycle of him not wanting to write down anything. He was in control.
He was in control… how can I sit here and type that? I am 20 years old for christ’s sake. And this child just totally kicked my ass for 15 minutes in a discussion group…
Later on when class was over, Mrs. White, who had observed the discussion, patted me on the arm and with a smile said, “Welcome to my world.” Those words still dangling in my mind, I can only imagine what she goes through each and every day with Simon. He is a bright student, it’s just that he is such a stubborn little shit. And I mean that in a frustrating, but also endearing sort of way. 🙂
I realize new things that should be so obvious every time I work with younger students…as a future teacher, I’ll be Mrs. White someday. I’ll be in a class with crazy, wild, and unpredictable teens. And whether I am ready or not, I’ll have those challenging students to be a pain in my ass. But dammit, I am going to learn from those students. I am going to be their teacher, their motivator, their supporter, whatever they need to succeed- I’ll be it.