Learning As Leadership

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 29 2011

Update: The Reason

No, he has not come to tutoring.

Or my class. Ever.

I have nightmares about him at least once a week. Every time I see him we have great one-on-ones. We set small goals. I ask him a lot of questions. I see him around the neighborhood. He comes to school. But he doesn’t make it to class. Ever. Or tutoring. Ever.

I know he wants it. The few times I’ve been able to lure him into my room (20 minutes late), he gets immediately frustrated over the tiniest thing and storms out in a rage, or fights another kid. I know he wants to learn. His embarrassment over his learning struggles is so great. That’s why, more than anything, I want to tutor him one-on-one.

If you have any ideas of how to motivate him to come to tutoring, please let me know. He often asks me for food, and I told him if he made it to class three days in a row I would buy him a snack. That didn’t work. So I told him if he came on time to class once and made it through the entire class without walking out I would buy him a snack. He came Friday, on time, and stayed. I gave him a bag of chips, which I later saw a 6th grader eating. I asked the 6th grader where he got them, and he said a 7th grader traded him for┬áthem for a Metro pass.

4 Responses

  1. parus

    At the risk of sounding like a blockhead, maybe this means you could bribe him with Metro passes.

  2. HAHA! Great idea. I caught him after school and asked him why he traded the chips and he said, “I’m a growing boy. I need real food. Chips ain’t food.” My ideal plan to motivate him does not involve an external bribe, but if he needs that in the beginning so he can begin to see some academic success, I will do whatever it takes.

    • parus

      Hey, you can always justify bribes to yourself by citing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

      An added benefit to Metro pass bribes: he won’t be able to use not having a ride to or from school as an excuse for not coming to class/tutoring!

    • Do what it takes. I think external rewards are totally legit to start with, then ween out. If you’re willing to shell it out for this kid, just do it. When I have situations like that I just think about how many times my parents have bought me candy or a magazine or whatever for doing a good job… does this kid have the opportunity to get that anywhere else?

      Sometimes I also think, “Well I bought myself three coffees this week. Is the bigger benefit me with a coffee or this kid with an extra eraser/granola bar/sucker whatever?”

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a Teach For America teacher’s blog

St. Louis
Middle School

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