Student Problem


And we’re not talking about Potamus. No, he remains completely “lovey” free (save his mama’s boobies). Seriously, that kid still won’t take a bottle/sippy cup/paci or hold a lovey. Whatevs. It’s working for him.

No, I’m talking about in my class.

My high-school-dropouts-getting-an-AA-though-my-program-class.

Yeah.

This student is probably 16 or 17, artsy, and has been “unschooled” their whole life. Whatever that means (because when I look it up online it seems to mean a GAZILLION things, much like homeschool, but…more…unstructured?). At any rate, this individual hasn’t gone to school and seems to have been allowed to follow whatever whim and fancy they so desired. As in: no math past 4th grade and never written an essay. That was their self-disclosure in their opening “getting to know me” essay, which is SUPER good information, but leaves me scratching my head like “fo realz? no math? at all? past 4th grade? wasn’t that like…um…10 years ago?”

At any rate, said individual is very knowledgeable and speaks up and often in class, provides good (although sometimes tangential) responses and has a good attitude toward the assignments. They seem like they want to be here to learn. And last week they asked if they could do some sketching in their sketchbook while I lectured. Sure, no prob, I like doodling when I listen to lecture, too.

But, we’re talking full on technicolor sketching with tin of colored pencils and the shebang. Might get distracting, but so far they kept it in check.

Twice today during our activities, which, I’ll admit, did get heated and boisterous, I looked over and sorta made eye contact with this individual…sucking their thumb.

The first time I thought it was surely an accident, or my eyes playing tricks on me, like maybe there was carmel stuck to the roof of their mouth and they were trying to get it off. Or maybe they were biting their nails. Or…I ran out of any good options after that.

The second time it happened it was clear, and they then shyly played with their hair afterward, when they were “caught,” which is exactly like what my son does when he’s about to fall asleep (a little hair twirl by his ear).

While clearly I have to address this somehow, I’m going to talk with my co-teacher, because it’s such a sensitive topic. I’m sure this student knows that it’s socially considered…different…and while we’re a tolerant and open class, perhaps a different coping skill might help them be perceieved differently. But man, I don’t know what to do, really. I mean, they don’t talk about this in grad school. Sure, my elementary school friends have had the awkward 3rd grade conversation about stopping the habit (at least in public), but…17? In college? For reals?

So…advice is welcome on how to broach this subject sensitively…

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