Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not Only Doves

I cried today. Just a little. Not so much that most people would notice, and maybe none of my students did. This was a hard day in many of my classes. My 3rd period holds my thorn in the flesh, a skinny kid with dreadlocks, perpetual animation, and profanity, disrespect and little volume control.
While I was in the assistant principal's office today with my little hellion, my 3rd period once again TPd the room, dumped all the garbage from the can onto my desk, and squirted lotion on the floor. But that's not why I cried.
I teach a History of Augusta class for 6th period. I explained to the students at the beginning of this semester that there are no Georgia Performance Standards for this class, so instead of just learning about Augusta history, I also want to take the opportunity to give them some skills they'll be able to use in other upper-level courses. Yesterday I told them to think of subjects they'd like to write an essay about today.
One of my students, let's call her Harriet, is a very sweet girl who told me a few days into the semester that she had some issues. I just got her Individual Education Plan yesterday. She cannot do more than very simple reading without constant supervision. In a class that at least once a week will entail reading a primary source and then answering questions or summarizing or even inventing new "facts", this means a lot of work for someone. Last Friday it was another student who assisted her much of the time (I gave him bonus points for peer tutoring since he couldn't receive the points for early completion).
When I spoke with Harriet's special education teacher yesterday, she discussed alternate assignments. I can print out all the notes I give, or most of them, so she can not fall behind in the notes. Today, I created an alternate "essay" for her by writing partial statements for her to complete: I am ____________. My parents are ____________________ and _________________. I was born in ___________ (date). And so forth.
Harriet completed all the statements, and expanded on my framework very nicely. She doesn't write very neatly, or spell well, but what she wrote I found unexpectedly thoughtful. She mentioned that people may take advantage of your sweetness. When I read down to "my favorite teacher is ___", Harriet had written in Miss Rogers, Mrs Johnson...and you.
Then I cried.

6 comments:

Ambulance Driver said...

"When I read down to "my favorite teacher is ___", Harriet had written in Miss Rogers, Mrs Johnson...and you."

And that is why you teach, not for the paycheck.

And Uncle Sam can't even tax it.

night lightning woman said...

You are one of those teachers who make a difference. I'm so glad you are doing what you are doing. Can't think of anything more important you could do.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Thanks for teaching, and thanks for caring.

For all the encounters in early life, few things really stick like the true attention and caring from adults who are engaged in challenging and caring. For all the days of feeling like you're in low-level warfare with the worst students, hold fast to these moments and remember: you are making a better world. Thank you!

Brigid said...

Small moments in a child's life. Big people.

That is what will make the difference. Thank you for giving that.

phlegmfatale said...

Ah, bless you.

Timbo said...

Those moments are the best, and help make up for those moments that are, you know, not the best.


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