teachin' school

teaching tip 23. make friends with the nerdy kids.

kids are really mean to each other.  i mean, we’ve all been through it.  we know.  but i didn’t realize how mean kids could be until i saw it from an outside perspective as a teacher.  it’s brutal!  and the nerds, the weird kids, the “losers” have it the worst.  but you can make it a little better for them by remembering…

you may be the only person that day that says anything nice to them all day.  they need those words, even if it’s just a “good morning!” or “you are correct.” or  “have a good day!”.  you never know what they’re going through at home or in the hall at school.  a few kind words can work wonders.

they’re some of the funniest and wittiest kids you’ll ever meet.  they may be quiet sometimes and you don’t know it.  then they’ll show you their funny side when you least suspect it.  other kids are just upfront with their weirdness.  i taught a girl last year who would dress up as different characters every week, wigs and all.  sometimes she would just wear one color from head to toe.  yeah, my eyebrows involuntarily raised each time i saw her.  but then it became interesting to me to see what she could come up with next.

they’ll open up to you.  it may take awhile.  but sometimes they’ll tell you something about themselves.  it can be something surface level or deep.  but when they show you something about themselves, embrace the conversation.  even if it’s just for a minute, listen.  they need someone to listen to their interests, problems, or stories.  i’m always quick to remind them that soon they’ll be graduating and life will be very different, that high school will soon be in the past.

you might prevent something bad from happening.  these kids have a hard time in high school.  some of them are really hurting.  look out for them.  observe them.  if you see something serious, talk to them about it.  if needed, go further with it by contacting an administrator and their parents.  you just might save them from doing harm to themselves or others.

they’ll teach you something.  they’re smart.  usually they’re really smart about one topic or subject.  if you have a good relationship with them, they’ll add to your class with their knowledge.  i have one student this year that is really interested in chemistry and physics.  i don’t really get it.  but i still listen and laugh when “professor science” (as he likes to be called) tells me a chemistry joke.

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