Friday, March 02, 2007

A Bad Kid Magnet?

One of my absolute favorite kids, a girl I had last year, was expelled for the remainder of the year this week.

This just breaks my heart.

I love Goth Girl, although, to be honest, it certainly wasn't love at first meeting. She's got my first discipline referral last year for writing graffiti on a seat in the theater. However, if you took the time to know her (which many people don't because she can be pretty off-putting) she's a good kid, although incredibly screwed up, most of which is the direct result of her mother who's pretty screwed up herself. I tried and tried and tried to get mom to show up at school for a meeting (made appointments, never showed) and to send in a current doctor's diagnosis for ADHD (which Goth Girl could be a poster child for) so I could at least get her on a 504 plan. No luck. Mom talked a good talk but was too busy fooling around on her husband to spend any time on her kids. Goth Girl, like her mother, is all about drama and she generates drama and uproar wherever she goes. She also has absolutely no impulse control and a complete inability to think about consequences before she does something. However, although I'm definitely not a fan of medicating kids, when she was on her medication for the ADHD (which wasn't often) she was a perfect, model child and a lot of her behavior issues disappeared; she would actually stop and think before she did something.

That being said, she absolutely craved attention and if you gave it to her, you won her as a fan for life. Something as simple as a pat on the back and a "good job", could earn you a smile that would light up the room. I was hoping that 8th grade would be an improvement for her, and it started off pretty well. Not as many stints in ISS, not as many suspensions, and it was looking good. However, the little stuff started to add up and pretty soon she had enough discipline points and landed in alternative school for a while. She came back, had some conflicts with some other girls (like I said, it's all about the drama), and ended up in trouble again. I'm not exactly sure what the final straw was, but when I walked through guidance earlier this week and saw her there, I knew it wasn't good. She came over, gave me a big hug and said she was being expelled. She wasn't happy about it, and goodness knows I wasn't either.

The next day, three more of my kids from last year came by during homeroom to let me know the news, in case I didn't already know. All three of these kids, including Stoner Boy and the ever-popular Stoopid Boy, are the sort of kids that usually cause teachers to consider early retirement. They were, however, the kids I really did well with and the kids I really enjoyed. They were good, usually, for me, and if they got out of hand it didn't take much for me to get them back in line. They'd then go into other classrooms and act like holy terrors.

My homeroom kids watched these three with interest. Most of them know them, if not personally, then by reputation. After they left, one of my girls, Amazon Girl made an interesting comment. "Mrs. Bluebird, you're like a bad kid magnet."

"A what?"

"A bad kid magnet. All the bad kids love you."

I guess we have to be good at something in this world.


leesepea said...

The best part about working with the bad kids is that you get to actually watch them grow exponentionally when you can connect with them and get them to focus on the task at hand.

Sometimes that's more rewarding than teaching the robotic clone-like "good" kids.


Yellow rose said...

What happens to kids that get expelled from your school?

Yellow Rose

Mrs. Bluebird said...

I don't precisely know...a lot of it depends on why they got expelled. A few, who were expelled for drugs, ended up spending lots of time in court, and then in detention facilities. Some run the streets. Others end up in private schools or home schooled.

I don't think expelling a kid is a solution to a problem. I've seen districts with alternative programs for these kids who just can't function in a normal school setting. They cost money, however, something taxpayers are loath to pay.

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

I too am a bad kid magnet, as well as a mentally ill kid magnet, a potential and real drop-out kid magnet, an Asberger's kid magnet, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes they're thicker on me than spines on a cactus. But someone needs to give them an ear. And it's usually someone whom they can trust not to feed them a line of crap or to be put off by them. It's a great complement.

Unknown said...

Dear Ms. Bluebird,

Sorry for contacting you in this way but I thought it would be the quicket way to reach you.

First, I fell in love with Goth Girl immediately after reading your post and think that being a Bad Girl Magnet is about high praise.

I'm putting together a new blog for our website ( and came across a reference to your blog in the LA Times. Soooooo . . . I am currently rss-ing many of your posts into our site ( If you object, just let me know ( and I'll delete the feed.

Please keep writing! Susan