Here is the letter to my assistant principal that I wrote to express my position about the situation that prompted the previous 9 blog posts about how Pigs Can’t Fly. The principal got involved. The result was that this kid and another were removed from my class at Thanksgiving. Since then, my class has healed, and now it is completely different set of kids. With those two boys in there it was my worst class, but with them gone it is by far my best class. We can never ignore the effect of a few kids, or just one, on our work. We can never underestimate the value of good will from kids in a classroom. I have seen this to be true now more than I ever have, and I realize that had I had stronger support in the removal of smelly, cracked eggs from the carton and bad, rotten apples from the crate, I would have, over these past three decades, had a much better life in teaching. Do not doubt that one kid can ruin an entire class for an entire year. Some kid in some classroom is probably ruining, ending a career right now somewhere.
I have thought about Jerry’s (not his real name) behavior a lot lately. I have worked with Jerry in a positive way to the absolute limit I am capable, and am now formally recommending that he be removed from the class. He is destroying it. I can prove that. Just come to Jerry’s class in 8th period and then to my other two classes after that. In my other classes, you will see kids laughing and happily learning French, but in Jerry’s class, you will see a dark energy that I attribute largely to Jerry’s presence. It’s strong talk but I mean it. I might add that we must keep this private. Were I to confront Jerry with this, he would not understand it. This situation is way beyond the “discuss it with the student” phase. (In this case the parents were immune to meetings with teachers and had no effect on this child). I am not sure Jerry has even yet been confronted in this way in his other classes. Maybe this is because, in my class, children must sit up and participate in a positive way with no options. I can be more specific about how Jerry games this class in private conversation with you in case you need more information about how Jerry operates to make your decision. Jerry is very rare among students, extremely hard to even identify as he is expert in flying under the radar with his destructive behavior, but this in no way changes the impact he is having on my teaching at ALHS.