Friday, September 10, 2010

They Can (Virtually) Break Your Heart.....

It's amazing to me how well I feel I get to know my online students. Some of them I actually talk to on the phone (some more than I would like, like every time they can't figure out where exactly on the page to click), and some I only "converse" with through email and text messages.

I form opinions and judgments of my online students the same way I do my face-to-face students. I just can't tell when they're rolling their eyes at me. I know which ones are needy, which ones will turn everything a week early, which ones will have a new excuse every Friday, which ones think this class and school in general are a big fat waste of time.

I also get attached to some of them. I want to go to their hometowns, ring their doorbells, take them out for lunch, and friend them on Facebook.

I'm not allowed to do any of those things. They aren't expressly forbidden, but I'm pretty sure they would be frowned upon. Hubby might also find it strangely weird. And weirdly strange.

One girl this semester has grown on me, although I was pretty certain at the beginning of the semester that I wouldn't like her. She is the only student enrolled in her particular section, so discussion board postings are interesting because I'm the only person who responds. She didn't know she was the only student, though, when she posted this for her "Introductory Discussion."

The first thing you should know about me is I don't like talking about myself..or talking to anyone I don't know at all, for that matter. So you'll excuse me for saying I find this rather elementary. Regardless, here goes. I'm 18 years old and a senior at _________ High. I was born _______ 11, 1991 at _________ Hospital in _________, GA. My hobbies include reading, writing, and spending time with my wonderful fiance. My future plans are to hopefully move to California, marry my fiance, and go to college for either Psychology or something to do with English. I say hopefully because I have the worst luck known to man and good things rarely happen to me. Those that do don't hang around for long. I really couldn't tell you three things I like about myself - sorry. I would like to change plenty of things, both physical and mental, in order to improve my self esteem and be truly happy. What things I would like to change are private. I hope I don't get an F for that, but I'm not the sharing type, and I don't want to freak anyone out anyway.

I responded to her post by saying she was certainly entitled to her privacy, but it sounded a little harsh. She was shocked - SHOCKED - that it came off as harsh.

Her work has been excellent, though, and she has dutifully turned in every assignment.

Then I got a couple of "I have a problem" emails, the first one saying they had both Labor Day and the next day off from school (I was dubious, but I checked her county's calendar, and it was indeed a "Calendar Reduction Day." What a nicer term than "Furlough Day.") She wanted to know what she should do, since she doesn't have internet access at home and she would only have three days to do her work. My response was something along the lines of, "Well you need to work really hard those three days to cram the week's work in." It wasn't like she had anything due that Monday anyway.

The next email made ME roll my eyes.

You won't believe this, but I have yet ANOTHER problem! :/ The library at my school does not have a copy of the play, and I certainly can't afford to purchase it. It would be a great help if I could use the public library (assuming they have it), but I can not because I've got over $50 in fees. The car my fiance and I had broke down and we just got it fixed, so anyway, we had no way to return the books...and none of this is your problem, so I don't know why I am telling you. haha Is there an online source I can use, or..?

This was in reference to the play The Piano Lesson, which isn't typically readily available in school libraries. It's exactly the reason I send out an email BEFORE THE SEMESTER STARTS letting them know they need to get a copy. I responded that there isn't an online source, and I had loaned my copy to a student last year and didn't get it back, so I couldn't really help her.

This week, though, I had a moment of weakness and bought her a copy of the book. It was less than $20, and I ordered it from Amazon and had it shipped to her. I forgot all about it until I got this email yesterday.

Thank you so much for the I feel terrible though, because unfortunately, I won't be attending school anymore. I have to get a job, because my fiance and I cannot survive without me working (it's a long story.) I can't work and go to school because I also babysit practically full time for the people we live with, but I don't get paid for that since we live here for free. So, it looks like I will be forced to pursue my education a different way : by getting my GED. However, this will be much quicker than waiting a year for my diploma, so I will be able to get a better job faster, and start attending college when I get the chance. I am very sorry for the trouble you went through. It was very very nice of you though, and I greatly appreciate it :) How would you like me to go about getting it back to you? I opened the UPS package because I had no idea what it was, since I had not been expecting anything in the mail.

The sad part is, I believe everything she says. I know some of the situations these kids are in these days, and the fact that most of them are their own making doesn't make them less tragic. Perhaps Mom and Dad (or Mom OR Dad) don't approve of the fiance. Perhaps the girl has a drug problem. Perhaps Mom/Dad has a drug problem herself or himself. Perhaps Mom or Dad is too busy living the teenage lives they never got a chance to live that they don't have time for this girl. Perhaps it's just a matter of strong personalities clashing and living separately appears to be the best solution for them.

I contacted our support person (a woman whom I truly enjoy working with), who contacted the counselor at this girl's school, who pretty much verified that yes indeed she is probably going to withdraw.

I want to fix it. I want her to stay in school. Even if she gets her GED, it might take her the same amount of time it would take for her to finish high school. I want to give her a normal home life where she doesn't have to worry about fixing cars or babysitting or paying bills or getting a job. I want her to go to football games and play video games and gossip on her cell phone with friends.

I want her to be ten years down the road and be able to look back and see that no matter what her problems were, they should have taken a back seat to getting her high school diploma.

I want a perfect world.

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