Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Crack in the Facade

These are the days that make 27 years of teaching worth it!!! Sorry for the long post - but it just made my day!!!

I got a new student in class several weeks ago. I chatted with him as he came in, from New Orleans, knew where English Turn was, told him my brother used to live near there before Katrina, but that was about all I got out of him. Gave him a seat, and he pulled his hood over his head and proceeded to attempt sleep. Wrong thing to do in my room!!! I gently tap his shoulder and pull back the hood. He sits up and just takes up space the first day.

I see him in the cafeteria the next few days. He sits all the way in the back, by himself. Nice looking kid, neat cornrows; clean, pressed clothes; but very quiet. He does not eat lunch. Girls sit at his table and try to talk to him - fresh meat! He really does not engage and they leave him alone after a few days. Don't see him even try to talk with the boys either. Hmmm.

Since he came about a week before the end of the semester, I tell him I want him to take the semester exam to see what he remembers from his other school. He nods, still not saying much. I tell him, if he can come to tutorials, we will try to get him caught up on one or two of the topics we covered the last two weeks at least. He does not show up. He fails miserably.

New semester started the day after MLK day. I pass out the homework for the week. Remind the kids that they get 5 bonus points for turning it in early. Also reminding the kids in basketball and soccer they can do their HW in tutorials that day and get their bonus points. None of the b-ball kids or soccer kids show up. But at 2:40 he shows up at my door asking if he can stay for tutorials and would I show him how to do the homework! "Well, hell yes" I yell in my head! I show him what to do and sort of hover while he works, noticing also that he puts the book about 6 inches from his face. Note to tell the nurse to check his vision and see about glasses from Lions Club maybe.

He finishes his worksheet, and I check over it. Of course it is 100% because I made sure it would be. I get my purple marker out and put the 105 on it and the slightest smile glimmers across his face for about 2 seconds. I also ask if he has internet at home. He does. I show him our science website and the vocabulary game he can pull up to practice the science vocab. I see him the next day in the counselor's office. Pausing as I pass by, she is talking to him about what he needs to do to pass his classes for the year since he came with mostly D's and F's from NOLA. I stop and mention to her that he is off to a great start for me at least, telling her of tutorials the day before. He grins a little bigger today! He also is starting to be the first one to show up for class. His period is right after lunch and most kids don't get there until 30 seconds before the tardy bell. He is in my room 30 seconds after the release bell. He is eating lunch now too, but still by himself.

Fast forward to this week. We are finishing our unit on plate tectonics. We play vocab bing, and he knows some of the words. I pass out the review sheet, he chooses to work alone, but then comes to tutorials as well. We work a bit more on the review in tutorials, and before he leaves I also give him a review sheet with all the answers (thanks to my wonderful co-teacher Lee!!!) On the test today, he calls me over and whispers that most of this stuff was on the review sheet I gave him! "Yes, you're right" I reply. He gets to work.

After class today he actually comes by to see if I have graded the papers yet. I have (God bless scantrons!) He made a 47. He hangs his head. I point out it is better than what he did on the first test, and that if he is willing to come to tutorials we will get him passing! He leaves saying he will be there "Cuz I wanna pass!" I close the door behind him feeling a bit verklempt.

File this away with my memory of Alan (an ESL student) who tells me he will invite me to his medical school graduation because he now likes science. I guess I have done an OK job! ;-)

1 comment:

phillip said...

this made my day..