Why can't I pick out the "bad" kids in my class?

Okay - let me explain.  There are a couple students I have in class that are, let's say, known trouble makers.  I know that I have heard these students names, but you wouldn't guess them if you saw them in my class.  I didn't really realize that these students don't act up for me until last week.  My school's guidance counselor contacted me and ask if I could be a part of a meeting with a student because she wanted that student to have a teacher who has a good relationship with them at that meeting.  That got me thinking about so-called "bad" kids and how I wouldn't even be able to tell they were "bad".

I currently have a student whose name I heard for two straight years.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, I had every student write me a letter in the beginning of the year and share whatever they want.  This particular student, who I will call Henry, wrote me all about how he can be lazy and off task, but he would try hard not to.  His honesty took me back.  I really think it is important to get to know all of your students, so I found out more about Henry during the year.  I learned what he was interested in and I praised him for the times he showed appropriate behavior in class.  During the first parent-teacher conference this year, I met Henry's mom.  She came up to me and introduced herself and the first thing I said was, "Your son has the best intentions." I could tell by the look on her face that she was relieved by what I said.  She had this big smile on her face and said thank you.  I explained the letter he wrote me and how when Henry does get off task, he usually catches himself and tells me, "Don't worry Ms. Colque... I can do this."  I don't care what others think; he is a pretty awesome kid.

I also have a few others students that I didn't even realize were known "bad" kids.  I believe that these so-called "bad" students behave better in my class because of a few things:

1. I let them explain who they are instead of making up my mind about them before they enter my room.
2. I take the time to get to know each student on a personal level.
3. I "catch them doing good".  I know that saying has been around for a while, but I use it.  I make sure to praise my students when they are doing well.  And if it is hard to think of something to praise them on, I pay closer attention.
4. I treat them with respect and expect respect back.
5. I don't put them in a lose-lose situation.  Too many times these "bad" students are pushed until they do act out.  If I were treated the same why, I would probably lash out too.

I think it all goes back to the idea that all students have potential.  If we write off students, they can tell and I have to believe it changes how they think about themselves.  We need to believe in ALL of our students!


  1. You know, I was one of those kids when I was young, who teachers hoped they wouldn't get, and I'm sure I deserved that reputation, but at the same time, I know what I needed from them wasn't condemnation, or judgment before they even got to know me. Those teachers who did give me a chance, actually were awesome, and I am thankful for the patience they showed in dealing with me. I really don't like it when teachers identify kids that way. I mean, it's one thing to blow off steam, and complain to one another, but when it comes to actually dealing with a student, each day should be a clean slate.


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