It has been a long and frightening election season. Day after day, and sometimes hourly, we are held hostage to outrageous updates about Trump’s camp. Each new story approaching, yet never reaching the peak of absurdity, only because we know it’s about to get sillier and more horrific as details emerge. Lately, I’ve been feeling despondent about hearing perspectives of people who have clearly failed to learn nuances associated with communication, develop empathy or formulate a basic understanding of logic (ie. equating ‘Black Lives Matter’ to ‘Die White People, Die’). As a former school teacher, I cared a lot about supporting my students’ social emotional well-being and relationships (at times, more so than their academics). Donald Trump openly behaves like a spoilt child, and this might explain why so many are unable to take him seriously as a threat. When I noticed and attempted to problem solve that type of behavior in my classroom, I thought about who that young person might grow up to be if I was unable to reach them.
Donald Trump is a terrible adult who was failed as a child ― by his family, his teachers, his community, and all the protection his privilege granted him. I painfully pictured him as a student in my elementary class ― one of those kids that could ruin an entire school year and cause a teacher to question life choices. Then I imagined all the carefully scripted unanswered emails I’d have to send home:
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Trump,
All month, the students have been preparing for their science unit presentations on their favorite mammal. Although it was difficult for Donald to abandon his original idea of the ostrich as his focus, he reluctantly accepted, after much negotiation, that he would need to choose an animal that was indeed a mammal. He went with the boar (an animal he seemed to connect with) and we have been preparing researched multi-media projects that were to be presented today.
As you have been briefed, Donald either refused to work on this for much of the class time allotted, or progressed very little in comparison to his peers, despite being provided with scaffolding in the form of extra time, graphic organizers, checklists and 1:1 support from myself. He’d been assuring me that the work was being completed at home. When I asked him to bring it in, he outright refused, and insisted he’d produce the homework assignments for me when I gave him access to my school email account.
Donald was confident as our science lesson began, asking repeatedly when his turn was up. While other students presented, he interrupted continuously to contradict their findings, or with discouraging comments, such as ‘Wrong!’ or ‘That never happened!’ When Donald got up, he rambled on about ostriches, stating he was finished being ‘politically correct’ about mammals. None of the ‘facts’ he presented about ostriches were true. In fact, his presentation derailed into a bizarre story about a hunting trip where he’d befriended and then killed a ‘huge and terrific’ talking ostrich. Later in the day, I had a private conversation with Donald, explaining to him, with the use of a simple rubric, how he’d completely missed the objective of the assignment, and that he’d earned a failing grade. He then tore up the rubric, said it was rigged, and that he was sick of everyone spreading lies about his presentation.
Please call me after school hours when you are available to discuss ways in which Donald may make up for his lack of effort.
Dear Mrs. Trump,
Although you have instructed me not to bother Mr. Trump with these emails, I do hope you’ll keep him briefed. This email concerns Donald’s general mood and emotional state lately. His relationships with peers, while never strong to begin with, have been worsening. His problem solving skills, particularly during group activities are severely lacking. Donald refuses to follow classroom rules. For example, he won’t ask for permission before leaving the classroom to use the bathroom, but berates the girls that do, referring to them as ‘weak’ and ‘disgusting’. He insists on remaining ‘line leader’ each week and won’t interact with students with visible disabilities.
Donald actively crosses out students’ names on desks, bins and cubbies and replaces them with demeaning nicknames he’s made up for each one. Due to his poor spelling and penmanship, these nicknames are barely legible to his peers, making his verbal attacks most problematic. Then recently, he began bringing in unkind (racist, sexist, ableist, xenophobic) handwritten notes targeting individual students, of which he makes duplicates to pass out. They are short, oddly, about a sentence long, but cutting.
Although he has failed to complete one homework assignment since the beginning of the year, he is diligent with regard to this new habit- perhaps we could redirect this sudden burst of motivation? He told another student that he stays up until 3am some nights to write them. Have you noticed this pattern? This would also explain Donald’s perpetual state of exhaustion and irritability. We are concerned that sleep deprivation is playing a major part in the deterioration of his social skills and increased levels of aggression. I am wondering if you’d be able to speak daily with Donald about his day, so that we might have a better idea of what he’s feeling and experiencing. Frankly, we are at a loss.
ps. Donald continues to exhibit signs of a cold or a sinus infection. The sniffling has been going on for months and seems to be getting worse, you might want to take him to his pediatrician. Keep him home for the day when you do, I’m happy to send home all missed work in advance.
Dear Ms. Sokolov,
I’m Donald’s teacher -- Ms. Taha. Although it is unconventional to communicate about a student with his au pair, Mrs. Trump asked that I correspond with you regarding all school-related issues moving forward. Donald seems very attached to you, and has even been teaching us Russian phrases he’s been learning! We’re thrilled he has finally taken an interest in a culture and language other than his own and we hope he continues this newfound curiosity about the world outside of the very tiny one in which he exists!
Donald usually looks forward to our weekly Show & Tell activity, and comes prepared to tell us about his unusual (and often unethical) accomplishments. As you may be are aware, just two weeks ago, he shared a story about regularly consuming his classmates’ cafeteria meal desserts in exchange for playground protection (from himself, as it turns out). Last week, interestingly, he brought in a bar of gold that he claimed was lying around the house.
During Show & Tell today, however, Donald decided to lecture the group on his preferred methods of attracting girls’ attention- this included looking up skirts, going in for a kiss on the lips, or pinching private parts. Donald was immediately instructed to stop speaking and was accompanied to the office.
As you can imagine, many of the students were visibly upset. This has been an ongoing issue with Donald, with four girls thus far complaining about his inappropriate comments. Donald has vehemently denied the behavior up until this point, and so we had kept him separated from those students. When asked to explain, Donald insisted he was only kidding and this is all the boys talk about at the monkey bars during recess. He also added that one of the girls ‘is definitely lying because, look at her’.
Our students’ safety is of the utmost importance and we ask that you keep Donald at home for an indefinite suspension until we have fully assessed the situation. Please expect a phone call from our school counselor. It’s important we support Donald’s emotional development so that he is able to function independently and appropriately as a well-rounded member of society.