Ready To Quit: A Teacher’s Reflection On The Most Challenging Student Of Her Career

July 26, 2017


As a leading provider of therapeutic and education services, Momentous Institute focuses on building and repairing social-emotional health — developing kids who become self-regulated, good communicators, problem-solvers, empathetic, grateful, gritty and optimistic.

Early in the year, Cristina Garcia recalls her student laughing as he ripped artwork off the walls. Cristina is a Pre-K teacher at Momentous School and has worked in education for 16 years. This year she had the most challenging student of her career. She remembers feeling unsure of her ability to help him; she didn’t think she had the tools and she didn’t know what else to try. One day she saw him rip artwork off the walls and she thought, “I hope he proves me wrong. I hope something we do can help him.”

Cristina is now finishing up her most challenging year as an educator to date. She smiles and says, “He did prove me wrong.” She opened up about her experiences with her challenging student and how she made it through to the other side.

This particular student was a challenge from the beginning. He started the year exhibiting all kinds of behavior – hitting, spitting, cursing, throwing. Cristina knew that a four-year-old with significant behavior issues is communicating something deeper through those behaviors. And she knew that when he yelled at her and called her names, that it really wasn’t about her but about his inability to manage his behavior. But knowing that didn’t make it any easier. She says that when a student is happy to see tears forming in your eyes as he calls you names, it is hard not to take it personally.

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