His is learned helplessness of the most debilitating kind...
He hims and haws, shakes his head, throws over his chair, and pleads loudly.
"I can't do it! I don't know it. I can't!"
If you just came upon us as I worked with him on his phonics lesson, you'd think I was a real witch of a teacher. I ignore his tears, demand more of him, make him start over when he balks.
I question myself as I push, push, push. I feel so evil. I want to hold him in my lap and assure him that everything is okay. Gently wipe away his tears. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.
Somehow, I keep pushing. I can feel it deep down that this is the right thing to do after all these months of carefully moving him down the path to learning.
Do it again, Mike.
Try it again.
No, start over.
He takes a bathroom break, and so do I. As I walk out into the hall, another teacher and her student are reading together. The teacher, new to our school, looks at me differently. I feel judged.
Mike takes his seat again. I put the word and sound cards out again. He starts, fumbles just a bit, then starts again. He does it.
I am too exhausted to rejoice. For now, we smile at each other, and breathe.
Tuesday morning, I put Mike's phonics cards out for him to do. He said something alittle whiney, then sighed and instantly put them in order. Task done. Lesson learned. For both of us.