Teacher’s Life: The Sixth Sense Kid and Other Quirky Classroom Characters

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After I saw the movie Kindergarten Cop, I thought to myself that I could do this. And I don’t mean talking in a bad foreign accent like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I thought I could teach little kids and actually have an enjoyable time doing it.

I have been a primary teacher for ten years now. I am also the only male elementary school teacher in all the districts I have worked in. This makes me very rare. I am like seeing-a-unicorn-racing-across-your-backyard rare.

The administration always overloads my classroom with quirky kids. They believe the child just needs a strong male influence to help with their quirks. While this is true for some children, you know as well as I do these kids are unique and follow no set path. Once you feel you have them figured out, they change it all up!

I have had more than my share of these kids over the years. Sometimes at the beginning of the school year, I believe my class reminds me of the cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but with more issues. I always think to myself, how can this child cause so much trouble and only be nine years old? How do these young children produce so much havoc?

I have literally heard teachers proclaim their year is ruined and throw their hands up once they see which students are on their new class roster. I constantly think to myself when I see my messed up class roster, I’m not stuck in this classroom with them. They are stuck in this classroom with me!

Now if a parent does not share their quirky kid’s strange behaviors with me, I will have to wing it on the fly when something happens. One year I had an ADHD fourth grade student that not only had trouble focusing since the parents did not believe in medication, but this student also was supposedly born with a supernatural ability. None of this was shared with me at the beginning of the year so it left me unprepared for what was to come.

The boy would sometimes stop what he was doing and look off into the distance and say, “Hello, grandpa!” It didn’t matter if we were in the middle of a lesson or if I had him up at my desk, he would glance off to the side and have a big smile on his face. He would then hold a short conversation with whatever he was seeing. It took quite a bit of sleuthing to figure out his grandpa had died the year before.

I wasn’t sure how to deal with the Sixth Sense kid. It is a tough phone call to make to a mother asking if she knew her son was talking to the deceased. She informed me that she knew about this, and as a matter of fact, she thought he was born with this power to speak to dead people. She said all of her friends and family knew about his supernatural ability. Bruce Willis probably even knew about his power!

I don’t remember any of my education classes covering what to do if a child is being given the answers on a test by his dead grandfather. I am not saying he wasn’t born with this talent. Who am I to cast doubt? What I am saying is it would have been nice to know before I encountered it during the first week in the classroom. Like she said, all of her family and friends knew about his ability, so if there is a chance it will display itself in my classroom, then I should definitely know about it as well.

After the discussion I had with his mom, I was always careful with how I handled her son. I didn’t want to yell at the kid someday and then be levitated into the air and sent through a wall by an invisible force. He was a good kid overall with a good sense of humor. We kept his otherworldly ability a secret from the rest of the students and their parents. Parents tend to overreact about things, and I didn’t want to contact a priest about having an exorcism in my classroom.

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