This week, I truly struggled with one student, one whom I have known since he was a seventh grader last year. He was coming late, telling me he didn't need my class, not working, and arguing. This is the student who told my co-teacher that he was going to get his GED, work at a local grocery store, rent a one-bedroom apartment, and buy a motorcycle.
I know not every student we teach is going to reach the same status in life, but at fourteen, I want my kids to dream big and find the motivation to achieve those dreams. I have worked in a two grocery stores. It is not an easy job. And based on my experiences, I know that many of the long-term workers do not have other options. At fourteen, we still have options.
Yesterday we held Saturday interventions for those students who failed the eighth grade STAAR reading test in early April. This particular student attended, much to my surprise (Thanks, Mom!). I was expecting a very rough 35-minutes with this student, but we had a turning point.
We were working on short passages to determine theme. One of the passages contrasted Money Mike and Poor Penny. Money Mike grew up with everything he desired, but he was never happy. Poor Penny grew up with nothing, achieved great success, and found happiness in everything she encountered.
Of course, my boys were all over the money. I would buy a mansion with an indoor pool and a movie theater and a... So I asked this student how he would get all of these things by working at the local grocery store. There was a pause, and then something clicked. Within a few minutes, we had discussed his feelings about school, and he had come up with a brand new plan - with no prompting from me: finish high school and go to community college to earn an Associate's degree, working at the grocery store during that time.
This may not be a huge jump, but it mattered to me. He is now dreaming bigger. Maybe I will see him at the grocery store in ten years, but maybe, just maybe, I will see him on TV or in the news as a successful businessman. I know which dream I am holding on to.