I’m sitting beside a student. She is completely disorganized. She is also failing several of her classes, and we are two weeks away from grades closing. There is hope. There is a chance. She can pass, if she decides to organize and complete work. She begrudgingly took out here binder and almost slams it on the desk. In a harsh tone, she says, “Here.” As if I’ve asked her to do something that is so egregious that not only she, but also her family, should be offended by my request.
My request was that we look at her binder to see what work she needs to complete.
The hostility towards me continues, and, instead of continuing, I stop and quietly say, “Hold on a second, let me ask you a question.”
She quiets; seethes, but quiets.
Looking at her, I ask a simple question, “What am I trying to do?”
She quickly answers, with sass in her voice: trying to get me to do my work; trying to get me organized; making me do work. To each, I shake my head.
“No, really, what is the only thing I’m trying to do?”
Dejectedly, “I don’t know.”
I let that sink in for a second. Let her hold on to that idea. There are a ton of things she needs to do, but right now, I’m only trying to do one thing: help her.
“I’m trying to help you, and, for some reason, you’re angry at me. Is that how you should treat someone who is just trying to help you?”
The anger visibly fades from her. She relaxes and shakes her head.
“Let’s look at this notebook.”
And we keep working.