Combating the Pobrecito Syndrome

Sometimes in school, like in life, we encounter students who are having a hard time.

Some of the problems can be missing parents, socio economic issues, sickness in the family and a plethora of other circumstances, which often leads to teachers feeling sorry for students. 

But they shouldn’t.

Mr. Julio C. Alcala, Principal at Chula Vista Middle School has spoken about this to parents at back to school night. 

“We don’t feel sorry for these students. We can feel empathy, but we don’t feel sorry for anyone.” 

I wish that I would have had that firm stance when I was a high school teacher. I feel it would have led to me being a better teacher with students who learned more. 

When you feel sorry for students, you stunt their growth, you lower expectations, and you rob them of their education. 

When you have empathy for students, you understand their situation, you recognize that they are working harder for the same results, and you still expect them to complete their tasks and learn what is on the syllabus. 

Kind gestures can be given, of course, extra snacks for kids you know are hungry, providing supplies, letting kids in your classroom during lunch so they can have a quiet place to rest, and even sometimes giving extensions for homework and projects. These acts show empathy. 

When you pat a student on the head, excusing them from their work, and not expecting them to learn basic requirements, you are feeling sorry for them, and that does not help anybody. 

Let us be empathetic to the children in our communities who are going through a hard time, but let’s not feel sorry for them. Some will accept extra hand, but nobody wants to grow up with pity.

What do you think?
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Melissa Cota

Melissa Cota

Melissa Cota is a Freelance Writer and long time education advocate, who has worked as a Reading Coach, Tutor, and High School Teacher. She grew up attending Chula Vista schools including Kellogg Elementary, Castle Park Middle and Castle Park High. She went on to receive a Bachelor's Degree from San Diego State University and now hopes to positively affect the Chula Vista Elementary School District through involved parenting.

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