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Misunderstood Behavior Issues
While teaching fifth grade at an inner city school, I had a student who was brilliant. One on one, I had a difficult time challenging him with leveled readers. His math skills were light years ahead of his peers. In a whole group setting, he gave the wrong answers, pretended to not be able to pronounce words and openly mocked me. He would curse and sling his chair across the room. I grew tired of notifying administration as they would put him in ISS. One day I pulled him from the after school program for a heart to heart conversation. I told him how brilliant and well mannered he was and how high is potential for success would be. I asked why he was rude to me in front of his peers and that I knew his outbursts and lack of knowledge were staged. I was not prepared for how he answered. He said, “You aren’t allowed to be smart or a teacher’s pet when you live in the hood. I have to fit in or I will get beat up”. It left me heartbroken and I felt helpless as to how to help him. I had him tested for the gifted program, which I was surprised that no other teacher had recommended before this fifth grade year. He passed with flying colors and was removed from my class and placed in the program for exceptional students. At least in that environment, he was free to be smart, eloquent, well mannered and creative. We just never know the struggles that our students face.