Why “That Kid” in Your Classroom Needs You the Most

Why “That Kid” in Your Classroom Needs You the Most

Summer has arrived, and school is no longer in session. Most kids are jumping for joy to be done with distance learning. (At least for now!) They’re planning on a Summer filled with sprinklers and popsicles, cookouts, and time with their families. And then there’s “that kid.” You know the one. They’re the kid that you scratched your head about. The kid that seemed at times, unreachable, resistant. That kid is the one that challenged you on every level, leaving you questioning your choice of profession. That kid is likely not excited about Summer. It might be hard to believe, but that kid wants to be in school. 

During the school year, that kid looked forward to walking through your classroom door each morning. Yours was often the first and only smile they received after waking. You always looked so happy to see them. 

That kid looked forward to school breakfasts and lunches, knowing that for those two meal times, their stomach wouldn’t rumble with hunger.

No matter how hard they pushed the boundaries, you held your ground. They could let their guard down because they came to know what to expect from you. Your structure and discipline let them know that they were safe.

That kid knew that nothing changed your opinion of them. Every single day you wiped the slate clean. They came to know the comfort of a fresh start. Knowing that they were truly welcome in your classroom was so empowering. 

Your classroom was a judgment-free zone. You did not care what they wore. You did not care how they looked or even how they smelled. You did not flinch when they talked about tough times at home. They always knew that they were important to you, no matter what.

You believed in them. For that kid, this was huge. They knew that you saw their potential. They might not have risen to the occasion all the time, but when they did, you celebrated their achievements. You always believed in them, and they began to see their own value. 

When it was cold and they didn’t have a coat, you managed to find one for them and you gave it to them discreetly so the other kids didn’t laugh. You always had an extra piece of fruit or some crackers to share. You didn’t care if they didn’t have a pencil or a notebook because you had plenty. They knew that you would always meet their needs.

The time that they were teased and ridiculed on the playground, much in the way they had teased others before, you didn’t tell them “what goes around comes around.” You hugged them and listened to them. You taught them better ways to talk to friends. 

When Covid-19 hit, and everyone had to pivot from classroom learning to digital learning, it was hard. That kid was really worried about not going to school and seeing their teacher each day. Luckily, when they logged on, they saw your smiling face. You encouraged them and reminded them that you care. You commented on their work and made silly videos to make them laugh. You created a predictable routine in an unpredictable time. 

Teachers, you are so needed. All students need you, but that kid needs you the most. You’re the provider of comfort, structure, and safety. You are a light in the dark and their hope for the future. When your classroom door opens in the fall, whether it be a physical or virtual door, please remember that your smiling face means everything to that kid. 

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Why “That Kid” in Your Classroom Needs You the Most

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Kristen Nance

Senior Member

Kristen Nance is an elementary school teacher in Oregon. She is passionate about children's literature, has an affinity for black cats, and is obsessed with ravens. She reads every mystery novel she can get her hands on, and feels happiest when she is near the ocean.

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