One of the toughest kids of my career has been sitting in my class all year. Impulsive and often brutish, his unfortunate life circumstances paired with a clear desire to be successful and lead his peers creates a quandary for most of the adults in his life.
Unfortunately, he seems aware of our uncertainty on some level, and so he is also skilled at manipulation. To be honest, I have not had many issues with him that I was not able to handle, but I have to acknowledge that he receives an unproportionate amount of my attention, which could be construed as unfair to the other 20 kids in the room.
On the second to last day of the year I confiscated his iPad for inappropriate use and was set to call his mom and tell her we would keep it at school for the summer. "No!" he begged me. "She won't let me go to Kentucky with my aunt to see my dad's family! I'll be grounded! Give me a chance! I'll be perfect all day!"
And he was. As I was handing him the device he smiled and thanked me. "I wasn't going to come tomorrow," he told me, "but I had such a great day today that now I am!"
I smiled weakly and clapped him on the shoulder. "OK! Let's have another good day tomorrow, too! See you then."
A few minutes later one of my homeroom students came to collect his bookbag. "I don't think I'm going to be here tomorrow," he said dejectedly.
"Really?" I asked, for it was news to me. "Are you guys going away?"
"No," he shook his head. And then he told me how that other student had been bothering him for weeks and that not two minutes ago he had grabbed his violin and smashed it to the ground. "That's a three hundred dollar piece of equipment!" he said. "I don't think there's any damage, but I've had enough."
"What about your teacher for a day presentation?" I asked him. "You've worked so hard on it! I think you should come!"
He shrugged. "Maybe, but I don't think so. I would really appreciate it if you would tell the principal for me."
And with that he left to catch his bus.
I informed administration, and the other student and his mom had the choice of him staying home or being in in-school suspension all day.
Denying the whole thing, he chose to come to school.
The other boy?