Dear Terrence,

I learned today that you got a referral during your first day at alternative school. By some quark of the school district’s referral tracking software, our grade administrator received notification even though you’re not currently attending our school.

I don’t really know what to say. I wasn’t there; I don’t know what happened. Still, I’ve seen you “in action,” and I can guess some authority figure probably told you to do something that you didn’t think was necessary. You don’t like being told what to do, and you often react poorly to instructions. Perhaps there was more to it: I do know that sometimes teachers do behave disrespectfully toward students.

I think if you look at things from their perspective, though, you might understand why: they see themselves as simply doing their job and treating you with respect from the beginning. Then you react to their instructions disrespectfully, and that semi-logical “you have to give respect to get respect” cliche kicks in. They think, “He’s not giving me respect. Why should I give him respect?” Sure, an adult should behave differently. But adults, like kids, are just humans, and you have to understand that, no matter how unfair it seems, an adult can be disrespectful to you with few consequences while the opposite is certainly not true. The best way is the hardest way: maintain respect in the face of all reactions. Then again, few adults can do that, and they have a lot more experience than you. Still, it is possible: at the very least, not saying anything at all would be the best bet.

Hopefully this will be a one-time occurrence. I know it’s difficult to believe, but you can be expelled from alternative school. After that, I’m afraid there are few if any alternatives.

Your Friend in Room 302


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