Teaching the Harry’s

Canada has been in the news a lot this week. Not only has there been an outpouring of support for those citizens affected by the massive forest fires in Fort McMurray, but also, Prince Harry was in Toronto promoting the Invictus games with our Prime Minister.

*swoons* this is heaven for a hockey/Harry loving Canadian 

There has been a lot of cute smack talk between the three parties involved in the games, including the Obama’s and Prince Harry, and even PM Trudeau. But on the flip side of this, there is also the question that I get as an educator regarding the (very handsome)  rebellious Prince. It usually falls alone the lines of “how on earth would you even handle a student like that in your class?!?!”

The first time I encountered it was the summer of 2012 before I started teacher’s college. I had booked a tour through Scotland a few weeks after the Olympics ended. This was the week where a nude picture of Prince Harry was in the papers.

The people on the bus were highly amused by this and it was a topic of conversation for the majority of the trip since I was just entering into teaching and another young female on the trip was just finishing up a master’s program to teach special education.

I think that people look at having that “problem child” (is there a better term to use? My mind is blank!) in their class as a bad thing. Yes it is a challenge, but I see it as the most rewarding of students. What people usually assume is that Prince Harry was a bad student just because he went a little wild in his teens and early 20’s (but really, don’t we all? My personal favourite was dancing on stage at a night club with drag queens…..but let’s just forget I ever mentioned that shall we?)

A child who experiences loss so young is going to need to process those emotions. Personally I have had to deal with two such children in my professional career, both who acted totally differently.

The first was a 5 year old who had lost a baby cousin. His family (mom/dad/him) lived in the same house with his cousin (cousin/her boyfriend/3 other children). The baby was around 3 months old when she died and in class C just wanted cuddles all the time. Sitting on your lap, holding your hands, and then he started to act out. He would hit others for no reason and then burst into tears.

The other was a girl who had to deal with her mom and two sisters getting into a car accident one winter. The middle sister was in a coma for 3 months. A took it as a chance to get as much attention as possible. Talking about it all the time, always bringing the conversation around to her family.

But then there are students who deal with divorce, custody battles, lack of attention from parents, borderline neglect, or maybe a physical/developmental limitation. They can become withdrawn or overly social, act out physically or emotionally, become defiant or lethargic etc.

I think these are all normal responses to this kind of stress in their young lives. But I also think that its unfair to the child to just assume that they are a horrible part of your day to have to incorporate their emotions into your teaching. I kind of take offence when people assume that I wouldn’t want to teach these students, like it is an inconvenience to have them in my class.

Yes  it is an added challenge to teach them, but no more than if I had to tailor my lesson plans for a student with Downs Syndrome or who was on the autism spectrum. I gladly change my lessons for these students to include them  in as much of the regular classwork as possible for them. I wouldn’t think twice about modifying a worksheet or assignment. It’s part of my job as an educator.

Think of how much easier it is to show a little extra affection to a child who is struggling with their emotions? How much easier is it to have an extra “hey how are you doing today?” To be a constant unchanging source of support and stability for a child?

In all the instances that I have encountered, just showing a little more interest in the student has been enough to sometimes calm the impending storm – even as a supply teacher. I also think that it might be a reason why I was invited back to these classes on a regular basis. I wasn’t afraid of the outbursts or the tantrums. I was ok with just letting M sit at his desk if he was too wound up to join the rest of the class. But I was also firm in my decisions as an educator. If i said S had 5 minutes of computer time left, I meant it. Not 6 more minutes, 5.

Now even if I was old enough to be a teacher, I would have never taught Harry after the death of his mother, since I am a primary teacher and prefer to keep to early primary as much as possible (he was like 11 right? Just at the higher end of primary) But whenever someone tells me they “wouldn’t want to deal with that” I literally want to throw something at them – preferably something ice cold and sticky, in the middle of summer, close to a swarm of bugs….

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5 thoughts on “Teaching the Harry’s

  1. I think children cope differently these days. As a young child, I whitnessed my parents fight, argue, physically and venally, emotionally tear each other down. I slept in shelters with my mom and siblings, caught the bus from the shelters, lived temporarily with family. My dad used drugs and abused my mom. They were so codependent on each other. I would pray for their divorce. My mom made the terrible decision to have an affair and as a result, I got 2 new siblings. My father did not divorce her. Through all this, and more I never chose to act out, misbehave, or make any excuse for terrible behavior. It was not bc my life was so hard…I didn’t let people see what was happening at my home. Even as a young child, I fought to stay as balanced as possible. I hid a lot of stuff.

    Maybe as an adult, I am still processing These events of my childhood. I just find it hard to say, “such terrible things have happened to that child, that’s why they have no regard for others, for themselves, that’s why they are going bat shit crazy.” Terrible things happened in my childhood and I did not take the route of rebelling to get through it. Again, maybe (hell, more than maybe) I’m still processing it and this is why I’m still not married. I can see how I am terrified at the idea. I’m sure that’s where my deep anger comes from. I am such an angry person, at times. I judge a lot. Yes, I’m still processing it. Oh, crap….Such a complicated subject, ehh?
    Interesting post. I hope my reply is okay. People go through things differently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your reply is more than ok 🙂 I find it hard after such a post to kind of take a side. Like I totally agree with you that it’s not ok to justify the acting out, but I also find myself on the side of my post where its like I understand the need to act out if that’s how they are processing it. Like to let them act out but to intervene and say “hey this isn’t ok”. Idk it’s a tough post, and I kind of flip flop on my opinions on it, and maybe I need to learn how to articulate my own personal feelings better? I just hate when people say they “wouldn’t want to deal with it” as an educator – I’m sorry but you’re going to have to deal with it, kids just don’t leave that at your classroom door, they bring it inside, and the class isn’t always going to be cupcakes and rainbows lol.

      You are such a strong person! I can’t imagine going through everything that you have (including your other reply about your friend dying) and still be so grounded.

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      • Yes, I agree…if you’re an educator you can’t really say “I don’t want to deal.” Those stories pop up in your classroom and you’d have to adjust. It’s kind of sad, though.
        Maybe I was different. I did leave the bullshit I saw at home, at home. But I do remember being taken From first grade, about a month in, and put back into kindergarten. I began kindergarten at 4…I didn’t turn 5 until late November. When I passed into 1st grade the following year, I do remember being afraid a lot. I cried a lot, I think. I was probably very immature, that coupled with the fact that my new unexpected little sister (whom I love dearly) who was born the month I began my first year of kindergarten may have been the catalyst that added to my immaturity that helped put me back in a second year of kindergarten.

        I can understand a controlled ‘acting out’ in the safety of your classroom. Which brings me back to the first fact that if they are processing something that’ could have been avoided (especially by the parents…like in my case), it angers me that parents are selfish and put their kids through hell bc if their own needs. I know that’s what my parents did to me. We never got an explanation to their craziness. Ever. We, as kids, just had to roll with the punches. We were too young to process that, so it’s not a surprise that finding healthy relationships is hard to do for us. What’s that saying, something like, “God keeps teaching you until you learn the lesson.” Apparently I’m still learning. But I’m still alive and learning and that’s a good thing. I’ll always keep trying.

        I feel that I’ve taken the floor for this post…please, any other readers, do chime in…sorry for being so greedy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • While you have taken the floor, you are making excellent points! Maybe your maturity did just need that extra year in kindergarten. In schools now, there is no way a child would be held back for maturity reasons, they are kept with their original class which might just put more pressure on the issue I think. You are so right in saying that everyone deals differently. You left everything at home, while another student might become angry and violent, or completely withdrawn. It all boils down to personalities I think. Another great reply! Thanks for jumping in there 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  2. My best friend was killed in a car accident we were in together. I have been processing and mourning her death for over 15 years. My mom died almost 2 years after my friends death; I can see how I am still mourning her death, but in a different way. Both losses meant different things for me. Maybe I am more understanding of going through a death and having these icky feeling spewing outside of you and maybe doing whatever it is to get through the feelings. I didnt rebel very terribly after these deaths. Maybe I am kidding myself, bc I do remember one instance that I wish to God I could take back and it still affects me today. Yes, I am still processing. Dear lord, I could benefit from therapy. Indeed.

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