photo © 2009 Carolyn Tiry | more info (via: Wylio)
I have always had a soft spot for the "bad boy". You know the one. He causes trouble in class, his grades are poor. He struggles in traditional classes, but excels in hands on activities. By the time he gets to high school, he is afflicted with "Stupid Sophomore Boy Syndrome". Do all sophomore boys have the disease? Nope, just a handful. Although, it can affect any boy at any time.
Having married one of them, raised two of them and taught hundreds of them, I consider myself an authority on "Stupid Sophomore Boy" syndrome. What is this? It is the time during their fifteenth year that boys leave their brains somewhere and forget to pick them up. In the hallway I am responsible for, there is also a brain sucking locker. Believe it or not, it's always the same number. The brain sucking locker affects those who stand too close, sucking out what common sense a boy has, causing him to say and do really stupid things.
This semester, the core group of the SSB's are out in full force. Luckily, they are split up amongst my three speech classes. And I have found that separately, they are genuinely nice kids. This is not a new concept for me, just a surprise.
And, they work hard for me. I don't know how or why, but they like me and my class. As one of them told me yesterday, "This is the only class I really work on. I actually try." And I can tell.
Maybe they like me because I set the perimeters for the class the first day. They know the consequences from day one. Maybe it's because they have seen me follow through on those consequences, not just with the SSBs, but anyone else in class. They are not singled out. Maybe it's because I joke with them and laugh at some of the things they do. Maybe its because I care and get after them when they tell me about something really stupid they have done outside of class. I won't go into specifics, but trust me--another symptom of SSB syndrome is that they don't think of consequences!
Maybe they like the class because they get to pick their own topics and be experts at something. Demonstration speeches are my favorite because I get to see what they are passionate about. I have learned how to dig fence post holes, replace the plastic on dirt bikes, make turkey calls, and play COD (Call of Duty, for those of you out of the loop). They introduce me to their heros during the Noteworthy Introduction unit. They create products to sell that fit their lives during the persuasive unit.
I look forward to their creativity and passion for topics I know little about. I enjoy the little moments in my day when I make a connection with one of them. It can be exhausting staying on top of them and making sure the syndrome doesn't rear its ugly head in my room. But in the end, it is worth it.
I guess the point of this is, if you don't take the time to make connections with kids and find out what is important in their lives, they won't care about you and what is important to you. To get respect, give respect.
And the good news is, for most of them, "Stupid Sophomore Boy Syndrome" is not a lifelong affliction. Most of them turn into wonderful men.