Teaching Students that Come from Dysfunction

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I know there’s a lot of workshops and published books that we have all read through our years of professional development that focus on teaching students of poverty, but I think our at-risk students possess a common denominator that doesn’t always involve a lack of adequate funds, and that is the broader term “dysfunction”.  The crazy train can be created by the adults in these students’ lives who make very little money or make two to ten times more than myself.

Dysfunction in a home can look a lot of different ways, but most of the time it stems from the immaturity of the adults in the students’ lives.  Sometime a mom or dad brings in a revolving door of men or women into the home, drugs and/or alcohol are frequently being used/consumed and/or shared with the child, parents are constantly fighting in front of their children, education is not placed as a high priority, and food, clothing, and shelter is insufficient.

I am saddened when I can smell my students from across the room, because the standard for clean clothes and bathed bodies is not being modeled or required (and yes there is hot water and soap in the home).  I have students who are being asked to stay home from school to take care of their younger siblings who might be sick (a.k.a. parenting when they’re not a mom/dad themselves), excusing their student from school just for having the sniffles, and parents are making a social-life mockery of themselves in public.  

If you become a parent, there’s a certain standard of responsibility that must be upheld.  Your Friday nights should no longer look like your 21st birthday celebration.  Why not spend time with your children instead?  Bring back the movie and board game nights.

Also, you should want more for your child than what you accomplished in life.  Push them to be the best person they can be.  Push them to contribute to society.  I had seventh graders in the past who could explain to me in detail the in’s and out’s of welfare and “working the system” so they could do “as little work as possible” when they became an adult.  

Never teach your child or instill the idea in your child that Learning is a passive experience. Learning is life.