She was a beautiful, smart and very sassy 8th grade student. She was angry all of the time and she had good reason. Many adults avoided her because of her attitude and students avoided her because they didn't want a fight. Her looks seemed scary and her attitude screamed get away from me. Deep down she was just a 13 year old girl who had a story you couldn't imagine.
Administration was called to her room because the teacher (who was awesome) couldn't get her to do anything and she was arguing with many other students. She was avoiding work and annoyed because she was caught leaving school early the day before and was confronted about it.
I entered the room with a smile, as always and said hey quietly to many of the students. She was seated on a small couch and I went over and asked her if I could sit down. She gave me the look. She didn't say no, so I sat down. I said quietly, "You know, leaving school early is kind of a big deal because it's our job to keep you safe. If we don't know where you are, that's not safe. Did you leave school early yesterday?" She just continued to glare at me and screamed, I already said no. I just sat quiet for a minute or two. She seemed to be working on note cards for a social studies assignment and I asked her if I could use a card. She gave me one. This is where I stopped talking.
I wrote on the card:
Did you leave school early yesterday? and gave her the card.
She wrote back - no
I wrote, what would you say if I saw you on camera leaving school early yesterday?
She wrote - I don't believe you.
I wrote, I care about you. You are smart and amazing and I want you to be safe. Leaving school early is not safe.
She wrote - I didn't leave early.
I wrote, Would you like to go see the video with me? I just saw it.
She wrote - Fine I left. Big deal.
I wrote, It is a big deal because I want you to be ok. Since it is a big deal we need to talk about a consequence.
She wrote - Whatever
I wrote, are you staying in for lunch today or staying after school so we can watch the video and talk about other things to do when you get angry.
She wrote - Nope
I wrote, the cool thing is that you get to pick your time - lunch or after school?
She wrote - Fine lunch
I wrote, awesome, I will see you at lunch and I hope you bring these cards because this looks really interesting and maybe you can teach me something. Thank you.
And I left. She came at lunch (she wasn't happy, but she showed up). We watched the video, discussed why she left early and spent the rest of the time eating and reviewing the flashcards she was making.
Verbal everything does not work for all kids.
Asking permission is better than barging in and doing what you want.
Attitude is fine...she was still communicating.
Thanking kids builds relationships.
It's not about I told you so. It's about I got your back.