“Get out! We don’t do that in this room!”
Sadly, you can imagine these words in any classroom in America.
It’s a trope and real life all at once; the adult who checks out when things get tough. The absent father, sure. Other times the absent mother. Estranged brothers or awkward aunts and uncles abound. Leaving is easy. Just go.
I am not a psychologist and I don’t play one on TV or even in an advice column. The inability to articulate or name our needs may cause us to push others away. Self-sabotage. “Just…go.” Leaving is easy.
This has happened every year inside my classroom.
I see the wheels turning in the student’s mind. I can almost hear his voice: “This is going to be impossible. Everyone will know I can’t do it. They. Will. Know! My face feels hot.”
Student behavior: “I ain’t doin this stupid work!” Physically the student may move from their seat and act aggressively. The student might distract others with jokes.
“Just let me go!” Because leaving is easy. Easier than being exposed.
Their expression and demeanor says: “Nobody notices me. I had a question that never got answered. No one ever tells me ‘Good Job!”
Student behavior: “I need outta here or I’m gonna blow! I need to go see [other adult in the building]. You’re a [ inappropriate name].” Other physical behaviors may follow.
“JUST GO!” Because it’s easier?
A student finds solace in these interventions only to find the return to the classroom brings more confusion; like starting a book at Chapter 8. “What’s happening?” This induces stress, furthering the cycle.
“Should I go?” [Leaving would be easier]
As a practitioner, I am not nailing it in regards to the above but I know this: The classroom community is the place where independence can happen. It’s the place where trial and error can lead to understanding. It’s the place where helpful classmates can cheer you on. This is where the learning happens. And it doesn’t happen if you are out of class.
Leaving the room is not an option for very many things at all; We have to work through it together. “Can I go?” The student asks. “I’d like you to stay. Let’s figure this out.”