The Quiet Types

As a substitute teacher, I have spent a lot of time in public classrooms. For the most part, I find it rewarding and consider it my way of impacting students lives. It also gives me a glimpse into the community I live in.

I was actually in a classroom this week when the news broke of the mass stabbings at a Pennsylvania high school and I was horrified. I can only speculate what would fuel a young man to choose a knife as his choice of weapon to inflict slow pain and injury to so many people. His pain must have run deep.

The harsh truth is that most teachers focus on the brightest students in the room. The pretty girls, the handsome boys, the star athletes, the doctor's kids, the behavioral problems and the rich clique often command classroom attention and respect while the quiet, less than ideal, awkward students go unheard and unnoticed. I make it a point to spend time and focus efforts on those kids because I feel they need it most.

The adolescent years are tough. Everyone, no matter how cute they think they are, goes through an awkward and insecure phase. Some youth are more prone to bullying and outcast with hurtful labels and sadly, the damage may be severe and permanent.

I was very outspoken and picked on kids during my youth because I was hurting. My home life was full of turmoil and school provided an outlet where I could get attention and be in control. Unfortunately, that control manifested itself in bad behavior.

My hope is that every student will realize that they do matter, that someone does care and that school caste systems do not equate to life status. We need to do a better job of embracing those in our care and not letting one student fall through the cracks based on our own perception of success, beauty and aptitude.


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