I remember a few years ago, I was teaching for a friend on maternity leave. A few weeks in, I realised I had a real challenge on my hands, a year 7 boy who was more than just the class clown.
One day after rehearsal I found my way to the principals office and asking what the deal was with “Mike”. We had a small chat about this young man and it turned out that this kid had in his short life had already been in about 20 different foster homes. His mum had some issues and was working through them and so when he was able to live with her he did, but it meant that the people that had been caring for him would be given a new placement, so, sadly, when his mum was unable to care for him he found himself with new carers.
The result, a child with massive attachment issues, and that for him translated into behavioural issues. By the time he ended up in my room, this poor fella had never been on a school excursion, much less a camp because of his challenging behaviours. The school principal asked if I was happy to keep working with him, but, as he wasn’t an academic type student, or an athlete, we wanted to find something he could do, so working with the principal and his carer we set out to do what we could.
Did he get a free pass for bad behaviour? No way!
One day, after being given his 2 warnings, I asked him to choose, stay and behave or leave the room. He chose poorly and was sent out. The following week he didn’t come to rehearsal, so I sent a student to go get him from class. When I asked him why he didn’t come I was told with all the attitude he could “Cos you kicked me out!” My reply, “That was last week and you chose to leave with your behaviour. I want you here, but I won’t accept that behaviour.”
My heart nearly broke when he replied with “You want me here”?”
It was like he had never heard those words before, and possibly, he hadn’t.
Well, he chose to join us, and I won’t say it was an easy journey, but we managed to get this young man to 2 offsite rehearsals….no, he wasn’t allowed to go on the school bus, but his amazing carer took him and waited there in case he had to take him away…and he got to perform at the Adelaide Festival Theatre.
After the concert I got a massive hug and thank you for letting him take part. I told him I did nothing except teach him the songs….he did the hard work and made the right choices with his behaviour, he was responsible for being there.
I still get teary thinking about how he was so surprised that I wanted him to be there.
It was my light bulb moment. That moment that I realised there are a lot of kids out there that just want to feel loved and wanted.
To “Mike” where ever you are, I want you to know how much you inspired me to do what I do now.
“Mike” is not his real name.