My mind keeps going back to a conversation I had with a student this week. I’ve been helping out at Working Lunch at my middle school for the past month. Teachers can send their students to working lunch if they are missing any assignments, this provides an hour of working time with two teachers and two paraprofessionals (as well as my dyad partner and I, twice a week). I’ve noticed several familiar faces during my time there, but a lot of the students are able to get caught up and “graduate” from Working Lunch.
This week, Johnny was there both days. On the first day, I noticed that he had about seven assignments out, and he was struggling to focus. I don’t think he got any real work done that first day. The second day was starting out the same way. I could tell it was going to be tough for him to get started, so I thought I would just talk to him for a few minutes. I asked him how his day was going, it was so-so. I asked him about his favorite classes and he perked up a bit describing his two favorites, which happened to be after Working Lunch. He then told me that he really wanted to be in the STEM course offered at the school, (this particular school has a really neat STEM program, with cutting edge tools and a dynamic instructor) but instead was placed in Learning Support classes. He seemed so disappointed as he told me this. I didn’t know how to respond. Thoughts about how he was getting additional support that he needed or gaining necessary skills for the future crossed my mind. In the end, I said nothing. I just listened. I’ve been thinking about this conversation and what I could have said. I’ve thought about Johnny and wondered if he would have been motivated in those STEM classes or how he would have handled them. What would you say to a student in Johnny’s situation?