Epic Fail

street • kid

cc licenced (BY) Flickr photo shared by origamidon

I just hate it when I get bad news about my students.  Before Christmas break and even now, I’m working with one of my students who is transitioning from home to the Youth Emergency Shelter and upon returning to school after break found out that a former student has been arrested for armed robbery and a host of related charges.  Epic fail.

News like this just leads me to a mind full of turmoil and a whole bunch of questions.  What exactly happened that led up to this?  Why didn’t someone intervene before it came to this point?  How could have I intervened?  How come these families didn’t seek out help for their kids?  How did the system fail them?  How did I fail them?  How did my school fail them?  What’s going to happen to them now?

And then there’s the tendency to rationalize.  Both of these boys came from very difficult situations in their families.  They both have a trauma history.  Both of them were quite resistant to help.  They have behavioral concerns in a school setting and were engaging in high risk behaviors outside of school.

So now what?  What do you do?

I’m going  to feel guilty for awhile on purpose.  This is just to remind myself to follow up on those little niggles that sometimes pass through my mind, take them seriously and not pass over them because I’m in a comfort zone with a student that I’ve known for some time.  I need to ask the courageous questions.  And it’s also to remind me to press issues more.  Maybe it’s not enough to only draw a parent’s attention to an issue, provide information regarding the concern, provide information on how to access support services, and to offer to help them as much as they wish through the process of accessing ‘the system’.  I wonder if I have expressed my concerns strongly enough regarding the magnitude of the issues and, as illustrated in both of these situations, that the parents need to get help themselves. I need to make the courageous statements.

And after the guilt?  Well, I’m going to have to move forward.  I’ve still got plenty of years left in the business and there are going to be plenty more students to come.  I’ve got to pull something positive from this to keep myself going and to improve my practice for future students.  So, I guess what I’m doing is accessing my resiliency to pick myself up, dust myself off, and figure out what to do next.  I seem to remember that resiliency has been a pretty hot topic at teachers convention and on the PD circuit in the not too distant past.  I’ve been on a tech journey over the past few years (future blog topics!), so have not delved much into the topic of resiliency, but obviously now would be a good time.

So I’ll start with a google “youth resiliency” search and check on PD opportunities to see what I find.  I would certainly welcome any recommended resources from any of you folks out in the blogosphere!  And then… share what I find.  For those of you who are reading this and identify with this topic, check back and maybe we’ll be lucky enough to get some resource recommendations.  But primarily I’m concerned with my staff members.  I’m not the only one who had relationships with these boys and is thinking and feeling like this.  I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to find for resources or learn about fostering resiliency but whatever happens, I do need to share it with staff members.  That will help us all heal from the loss we are feeling and improve our collective practice.

It’s the first steps on a blog post that I’d like to write someday called Epic Success.


6 thoughts on “Epic Fail

  1. coleksyn

    This post really touched me Carolyn. Reading it I could really see that you care for the students you lead. If you didn’t care I guess there wouldn’t be any guilt or reflection or second guessing. Was going to email you the comments lest I look like I’m stalking your blog 😉 but I couldn’t resist the post. Well written and heart felt. Thanks for sharing.

    1. pbrainedthoughts Post author

      Thanks Carlene. Yes, these kids really do get under your skin. There are so many of them with unique stories and interests and they all want to find their way in the world. So it is sad when they encounter a really really big bump in the road. And if I was going to have a stalker, you’d be my first pick. Take care.

  2. Kelly

    Love this. Thanks for the reminder to go even the extra inch outside of our own comfort zone to help our students. I just assume that guilt comes with the territory—-kinda’ like mom guilt.

  3. marcilaevens

    I share these feelings with you. In the fall I heard a former student (difficult home life) who I had built a strong relationship with, had made a suicide attempt. I was devastated and it filled my thoughts for many days. I had all of the same questions you did. How did we fail this student? And of course there are others. Answers are not easy, but the fact that you are thinking about it is a huge step. Here is a blog post I wrote during that difficult time http://wp.me/p1FlWd-1s

    Thanks for this post

    1. pbrainedthoughts Post author

      Thanks for the sharing your post with me. I remember seeing that video clip in the fall and, yes, it is very inspiring. And you’re right, we do need to think of ways to reach those students in need. We need to be willing to take the risk and re-prioritize to make the connection.

      Take care.


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