What can I do? How can the short time they spend with me be beneficial for them?
When I started teaching (in Indiana) I decided that I would (try really hard to) never talk down to the students, even when they acted like idiots. They have enough people in their life doing that for them already. I decided I would talk to them like real people, like adults, with respect. And you know what? It works. It takes a while (insert teenage angst, I hate the world, I hate school, I hate you, etc...) but it has always worked.
Eventually they see me as someone who is there to help them, not to make them feel small.
I took a break from typing this to meet with a group of students known as my advisory group. It's a group of 7 students that report back to me daily on their progress, struggles, and any questions they have. I had a student mouthing off to me telling me that an assignment was stupid and she wasn't going to do it.
I laughed in my head, thinking of what I had just written on this post and how I should stay true to it. I wanted to say, "You are so immature, that's why you're 20 and still in high school." But I didn't. She's probably been told that a million times.
I explained why I thought the assignment was valuable and then moved on and addressed the rest of the group, acting like nothing had happened and showing no emotion toward her.
She still left with an attitude. We'll see how tomorrow goes. All I know is I didn't tell her to quit, give up, stop trying, or whatever other people have said to make her so callous.
I wanted some inspirational quotes in my room, but didn't want to buy those cheesy teacher posters that are like, "Don't tell me the dog ate your homework, I know you don't have a dog." I just made that up. Sounds like a teacher poster with a picture of some dog hanging out of a trash can.
Anyway, I made these for my room. Hopefully 1 or 2 kids will stop and read them: