I believe that Ponyboy and his English teacher are both on the same page when they discuss his "circumstances" in Chapter 12 of the Susan E. Hinton novel, The Outsiders. Because Pony has always exhibited writing skills and an interest in the class, his teacher is willing to give him a "C" (Pony is failing) if he can come up with a suitable semester theme. The teacher undoubtedly is aware of Pony's troubles--the murder in the park; the rescue of the kids from the church fire; and Johnny's and Dally's deaths--since all of these incidents have likely been reported in the newspaper. Pony knows best that he is also "goofing up," but he is now a minor celebrity due to the publicity, so it is no secret to the teacher either.
In Chapter 12 of the story "The Outsiders" the reader learns that the English teacher is trying to help Pony Boy pass his class by giving him a chance to write an essay about the circumstances in his life. The teacher is aware that Pony Boy has had a difficult time and the recent tragedies in his life. Pony Boy is experiencing problems with concentration and at first has some trouble following. Yet, he knows that the teacher is appreciative of his writing skills. Pony Boy is aware that it is his life experiences and the outcome of recent decisions and the consequences of the relationships between the Socs and The Greasers and Bob's death might be topics that his teacher would like him to write about