Jackson, I’m Sorry

I told myself at the time that our school just wasn’t right for you.
But neither was where you went.
I told myself at the time that I wasn’t the right person to deal with your problems.
But there was no one else for you.
I told myself at the time that you really didn’t want my help.
But you did, you just couldn’t say it right.

As your science teacher it was fine, but I couldn’t do that and be your tutor.
It was fine because in the class we had the boundaries, and you towed that line.
It was fine because I was strict with everyone, and not personal, you managed with that.
It was fine because science was practical, and you could do that type of thing.
It was fine because your enthusiasm helped you with the reading and writing too.
It was fine because we didn’t have a large class, and you could sit on your own, at the back.

But then they realised I was the only teacher at the school you had a positive relationship with.
And that you couldn’t manage with your tutor, you were getting out of hand.
So they moved you.
It didn’t work because the tutor’s relationship is a personal one.
It didn’t work because the activities were about discussion.
It didn’t work because you couldn’t empathise like other kids.
It didn’t work because you would show unwanted behaviours when you weren’t given attention.

It fell apart when you said no to me.
And I felt like I couldn’t have that in my classroom.
And I removed everyone from the classroom because you wouldn’t move.
And I couldn’t give an inch because everyone, including you, would take a mile.
And I could see that anger that other teachers had told me all about.
The anger that I know eats you, under your skin.

And then we moved you science class because, well, I could only do one of the roles.
And then the exclusions started.
And then the special treatment started.
And then the skiving started.
And then we lowered our expectations.
And I felt sick at the thought of dealing with you.

And then the anger started and you shouted at me, “I don’t want you near me.”
And then you avoided me every time you saw me.
And then I went to the head of year.
And I said “if we can’t handle him now, at eleven, how are we going to handle him at fifteen.”
And then we found you another place at another school.
And I was relieved.

I’m sorry because of my part in this.
I’m sorry because I really didn’t have the skills to help you.
I’m sorry because at the time you were too much.
I’m sorry because moving the problem on was the easy way out.
I’m sorry because I put my reputation for discipline before you.
I’m sorry because I didn’t find the time to help you.
I’m sorry because I was afraid to.


  1. Anonymous31/3/13 05:11

    (Hey Kit! was sent a link to this so thought I'd share my reflections in the most arrogant and pompous way possible).

    You mention what worked for the student: boundaries, firm clear even strict guidelines without making it personal - working from his enthusiasm rather than your agenda -

    You feel guilty because you're suppose to - we can't reach every kid and not every kid is ready to be reached - when you stop feeling guilty for your imperfections for what you could have done better, that's when I'd question your integrity.

    Learning to take care of yourself, get closure and move on is also a survival skill for you - forward a note of your conclusions about how to offer that child a successful environment and ask that it become part of his file.

    You didn't have the skills the tools the time or the district support to do all that you envision doing for every child - which makes you one of the good guys.

    Keep building those skills and learning how to be your most genuine self while sincerely connecting with the kids - that is what your students will grow into.

    In therapy the technique is less important for results than the relationship and I suspect it's not so different in education. However the catch is an effective relationship is not always sugar and spice and everything nice. Sometimes it's letting someone fall so they can learn to get back up.

    You are not their savior - you are a person with a role engaging with other persons who have roles.

    If you THINK you are hurting them work to improve if you FEEL you are hurting them consider the possibility that it's your own pain being projected onto them.

    Be compassionate be kind be honest to others but more importantly to your self.
    Be true to yourself. People see the layers and know when they meet someone real and that alone is often enough to win favor.

    Now put yourself first - work through the fear and treat yourself to the same kindness and attention you want for the kids. It has to start with you.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks very much for your comment.

      I think I had best take this moment to mention that all the writing on this site and in my books is fictional, and that any resemblance to real life events or people are purely coincidental.

      I am really glad that the wee story inspired such a honest and well meant reaction from you.
      Thanks very much and I hope you will check out Rūta which is free on kindle until the first of April.