Despite all the hair I have pulled out over this kid in the past few months, he has grown on me. I do not know exactly when it happened, but one day I realized that he really makes me laugh and smile.
In the past few weeks, I have watched miraculous things happen with this child, and I am not quite sure what has brought about the change.
- Last week, D. came into my room from another teacher to work on a make up assignment. While he was here, he listened to the lesson he would be part of the next class period. The student did his best to absorb all the "smart answers" to share in his class. During his class period, he did his best to spit back everything he had heard, and he honestly did a very good job. He was determined to be the "smart kid," and I gave him every possible chance to do so.
- I do a lot of choral activities in class. D. responds very well to them because he likes to talk. As D. has become more comfortable with these activities, I have noticed that he is using our class words more and more frequently. When a kid who can barely read is using words like plausible and preposterous in his speech, I am declaring victory. He has even been able to use the words accurately in his writing.
- During one of our advisory periods last week, D. started reading Milkweed on his own. I simply handed out the books and told the kids we would be reading it. I never assigned a thing. My tutor and I did our best to act is if we did not notice , but we discovered that D. was reading the book on his own. He was very engaged, and the look on his face showed that he was focusing on understanding the story. We started discussing the novel today, and D. was able to raise his hand and participate in conversation. This is not something he has been able to do in the past. He even attempted to make an analogy about the plot, but he could not find the right words. I know potatoes and Cheez-it's were involved. Whatever it was, it made sense in his head, and I give him credit for working to express himself and clarify his thoughts.
This is a student who rarely receives praise. I really felt that he needed to hear some. I called him over in class, and gave him some very specific positive praise about his participation. D. got the biggest, goofiest grin on his face, and I loved it. Once I caught him reading without being forced, I printed a "You're a star" certificate for him. I colored and signed it, writing a note at the bottom that it was for him to take home and hang on the refrigerator - which he did.
By middle school, we want our students to know a lot. I have seen teachers give up on kids, thinking that if they do not have it be the time they reach us, they never will. I am not giving up on this kid. I do not know how far he will make it in the long run, but I want him to know that someone believes in him.