The bad kids are never bad.

“Ms. Daughter, we’ve been going through a really rough divorce….third house this month…five kids…but he loves you…”

“Ms. Daughter, he’s always been a really shy, sensitive kid.   Then all of the pipes in our house broke, and he had to move and has had to move away from all his friends…but he has really taken to you… and I am hoping not to have to move schools…”

“She knows she shouldn’t hit and kick….very violent home…cousins in anger management…dad in and out of work…. but she just loves you…..”

“She just loves you….”

“He just loves you….”

These are my “problem kids.”  It is only when I hear their stories that I begin to understand.  The bad kids are never really bad.   It makes me want to smile more…but not because I’m happy. Because I want to make my class a safer place.

I feel so lazy.  I should be doing more.  I watched part of an Orson Welles movie.  I forgot to run off their math homework.  Have I covered the punctuation enough?  Have I graded enough?  Have I given enough?


Oh God.  If they fail at life because of something I did or didn’t do…..

The bad kids are never bad…

But- if they talk to their neighbor again…I’m pulling a card.

Seriously kid.

You know…it is absolutely unnerving how much faith the hope and trust those parents have in me. I get off the phone and want to cry…and then never have a social life again and spend every waking hour focused on their children.   I’m 22.  I want to ask them what THEY were doing at 22.



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3 responses to “The bad kids are never bad.

  1. Agreed. I have had these same experience, especially this year as I took a job in a place with high levels of child abuse, poverty, and apathy.

  2. That was me at 22, inner-city 4th grade classroom. A decade+ later, I’m still at it. Wealthier school (this year), but kids that are still in heart-breaking situations (and who still bounce like jumping beans). Parents who still call me crying. Managing work life with social life will get easier. Promise. I’m a healthier teacher when I can get some time “away.” I am a better teacher now, in many ways, than I was 10 years ago . . . but I know I was also a great teacher then because I cared so much and the kids KNEW it. Funny how much love can cover so many mistakes. (Because you could give your life to this job and it still wouldn’t feel like “enough!”) And I still love my job.

  3. Moniker Challenged

    Thanks for trying. My six year old nephew is one of those problem kids. His mentally unstable, chronically unemployed and homeless mother has custody of him because she’s female. I just heard that his mom’s been kicked out of where she was living for maybe the 6th time this year (and this is actually a good year). He spends so little time in school I’m afraid he’ll never learn to read. So, I imagine when he does go he’s a holy terror. It’s not fair for teachers like you to have to deal with that, but I’m really grateful for people like you who still try.

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