Today I got a failing grade. As a teacher my job is to teach, to inspire, to motivate students. Sometimes I do that well. Sometimes I do well enough to pass, although “just passing” isn’t good enough. Sometimes I fail. Failure isn’t with every student, as I see it. Failures for teachers happen one student at a time. Those are the times that I fail a student because I have to write a referral.

Oh, it’s easy to blame the student. He earned every bit of that referral. I had already sent an email to people who needed to know that there might be an issue because he came in with an attitude – although he wasn’t disrespectful to me. He wasn’t violent. He wasn’t really disrespectful while he talked to me. But some things have to be written up. (I am not being specific for the sake of not allowing anything to be tied to a specific student.) When the incident happened I was quite sorrowful because I knew the minute that it did, I had failed to inspire him. I had failed to motivate him. He would rather do something that got him in trouble that stay in my class. I failed him.

I didn’t get him involved in the lesson. I’ve had kids come in with bad attitudes before who have later become engaged. Those are days I passed with every student. On this, the third day of school, I couldn’t do that. He has issues, though. So what. My job is to deal with students with issues. He has problems. So what. (Yeah, the same thing only say “problems” instead of “issues.”) Every child that comes into my classroom deserves the best I have to offer each and every day. Every kid deserves a chance to succeed and a teacher who believes in them enough to help them succeed. I do believe in my students. I believe in this one. He has so much potential that if I can find a way to tap it and get him moving in the right direction he could flourish and become very successful. And today I failed him. I don’t think he sat in the office thinking about how much I believed in him. I don’t think he sat in the office inspired by my passion for the subject, the work and the student. He so wanted to get out of my class that he was willing to endure the trip to the office and the consequences of his behavior.

I have to find a way to reach this student. I have to find a way to help this student believe in himself and realize how successful he can be. The bad thing is that I had to write a referral on the third day of school. The good thing is that there is a chance to restore things with this student and I have a long time to do it this school year. My homework assignment now is to find out what makes him tick and then find a way to reach him using that information. I can’t put the blame on him for circumstances beyond his control. It’s my job to work around that. I need to know my students because there are others like him who need to find something that causes them to desire an education. Teaching is not just a job. It’s not just a calling. For me it’s a passion. I don’t like failing any student and I will overcome my failures


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