One of those days...

It's not every day I have to fight children tooth and nail to convince them to stay in a program that, to be honest, I don't think they should be in.

To preface, we have certain rules and expectations that we establish with our afterschool students prior to the program beginning. Some of the most important rules are no fighting, no disrespect, and participation. One of our students has, at least once a week, broken one or more of these rules. The very first week, he hit someone... and I let it go. We had a serious conversation, I reached out to his parents, and we moved on. When it happened again, I had a sterner conversation and yet again reached out unsuccessfully to his parents, but once again we moved on. Again and again, this pattern repeated - until today.

After spending twenty minutes convincing this student to do their homework, he yelled at another student and nearly kicked him. It was at this point that I took him out of the program for a long conversation about his behavior and his continued participation in our afterschool program.

Never have I been more frustrated in a conversation with a student than I was today. To be honest, I don't know that this student should be in our progam. He is very smart but very disruptive, often taking the majority of our attention away from the other 15 students in his team. I now worry that he is a danger to other students and someone who we may just not be able to work with.

But when I spoke with him about his commitment, his responses ran the gamut of 'I don't care,' to 'this is boring anyway, I hate City Year.' When asked what he would do instead, he didn't know. When I asked him where he would be if he didn't complete his homework and go on to do well in school, he said 'hanging on the street, collecting tips, having fun.' So now I have to try to convince him that it's in his best interests to stay in our program, even though I don't think it's in the groups best interests to keep him.

What do I do with this? How do you teach someone who so obviously needs the help and support but is so determined not to accept it? What needs do I sacrifice to support this one student when I have 60 others in the same program who need the help, and 20 others outside the program that desperately want to be in it?

I am at a loss. Luckily, the decision is not entirely up to me and I can trust the school's faculty to provide their perspective and advice. It comes at a much needed time.