How Bad Do You Want It?

In four weeks, this school year will come to a close. Spring quarter can be very difficult, and this year is far from an exception. There is a sadness of saying goodbye to students I have spent so much time getting to know. There is a culmination of sorts as I evaluate all the efforts I've put forth this year to try and assist in their being successful, and there is an emotionally draining frustration of watching some students fall apart, seemingly incapable of performing their very best for whatever reason.

I had always heard about people who are their own worst enemies...those who sabotage their own successes. Based on my own teaching experiences, I have encountered at least one or two students like this each year. Those experiences did not prepare me for this year. Our population is largely transient. They come and go so quickly that it becomes exhausting attempting to make connections. They have drug addictions, and I'm definitely not talking about a kid getting drunk or high every weekend. I'm talking about how they believe it is impossible for them to make it through their day without it. They have serious family issues, and negligence, and abuses going on at home. School is not always their priority because some of them have their own kids already and/or are pregnant. Most of my kids have jobs and attempt to work as many hours as possible, and some of them are already living on their own or with older siblings. They are "getting by". They struggle. 

I see how they struggle. I can't even explain some of the situations I have been introduced to this year that surround my students, and I genuinely don't know how to help them. I have tried, and will continue, to articulate in so many different ways the opportunities we as Americans are fortunate to have. I have tried to illuminate the value of education, the value of experiencing anything outside the life they see directly in front of them. I have opened up, shared elements of my own life...struggles that I have dealt with in hopes they can see a different way. And now I'm sitting here with 16 school days left, feeling just a little empty. 

It's possible I have said the words, "Why do I want you to be successful more than you do?" at least ten times this year...because I don't get it.

I don't understand how someone doesn't want more than the bullshit they've encountered so far. When meeting some of their parents/guardians, I don't understand why a parent doesn't want more for their child. I don't understand how to entice someone to look outside the fucking box they've been jammed inside all these years.

To make me feel better, I tell myself that I've wedged my crazy ideas of college and travel and escape and healthy relationships somewhere into the folds of their brains to be accessed later. I tell myself that because when I think about how many of my students have given up, or been asked to leave, or are suspended, or who choose to attend and do absolutely nothing it kills me...the acceptance of failure and mediocrity is visceral. When one of my students who I had for THREE hours a day isn't going to graduate because he was too busy getting high in the bathroom,or when another has literally made the choice not to graduate because, "it's too much work" with 16 days left, I'm left in awe. I'm at a loss.

Thirty-two weeks ago, I showed a video, How Bad Do You Want It?, to my seniors. It was the first clip in a long line of weekly inspirational and motivational videos I specifically selected for them. My hope...my naivety I suppose, was that by coming in with all kinds of positive energy and passion, I'd be able to make a difference, and I don't mean that to sound cliche because I genuinely mean it. 

I'm not saying I didn't help some students this year. I'm just saying I'm tired at the moment, and mostly, I want more for them. I want them to want change. I want them to break the cycles they are looping into. I just want them to want it too.


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