Friday, February 01, 2008

Uber Inspiration

It’s been a crazy, chaotic couple of months. The holidays wiped me out, and the time after Christmas break and before the start of the new semester put me in the lowest mood of the year. It was merely a funk where all the issues of being a teacher seemed to be chained to me and dragging me down. Overwhelmed is the right word, and I felt like I was losing an uphill battle. The momentum of moving toward Christmas broke and I was left in an educational freefall.

Thankfully, that was a temporary funk.

In more upbeat news I had a glorious victory with a favorite student of mine.

L is by far my favorite student of the last two years. She’s more learning disabled than emotionally disturbed and is wonderfully behaved. L is a beautiful 16-year-old with devastatingly low confidence and a give-up-quick attitude. I have been working since September to build her confidence, and I have seen much progress. In ELA my L takes more risks, answers questions in front of the class, and I can even get her to read aloud once in a while. Math is a whole different story. Let me tell you, when it comes to math, this girl will shut down.

When the majority of my students become stumped with their classwork they throw chairs, stomp out of the classroom or curse me out; L will merely put her head down and refuse to acknowledge the presence of math. At least, it used to be that way. Math class has a push-in during my lunch, but I found that working one-on-one with L during my lunch brought her great success with practicing math. She and I are fond of using bright-colored transparancey pens on the cream-colored desks in my classroom, and she has shown great progress:

September assessment of math skills: 2.7 grade level

January assessment of math skills: 4.5 grade level

Yes, I am mostly happy for L…she really has come a long way and she rarely shuts down when it’s time for math. But more so I am very pleased to bear witness to actual student progress, to be able to measure how far a student had come from.

Now, here’s the really good news. Last week L passed her math RCT. She and I studied after school everyday for two weeks, worked very, very hard…to the point of frustration. We knew she had to get 39 out of the 60 RCT questions right to pass, and L told me that last year she didn’t even answer the written portion of the exam, only the bubble-ins.

“L, pass or fail I will be proud if you do your best to answer every question.” That was my goal for her, to overcome her desire to give up. I was determined to make L determined…even saying that a wrong answer was ok because it meant she tried at least.

I wept when I heard the news, L got the exact number right (39) that she needed in order to pass. Amazing. I had a feeling she’d be close to passing, that I could tell her that she was really close, did really well and we could work towards her taking the RCT again in June… Simply stellar!

And the best thing? Now she has quantitative proof that she is able to achieve things she works hard for. L can see for herself how far hard work brought her, and that is an incredible feeling for a child. I can honestly say, with a full heart, that I have never been more proud of another person…or of myself.


Blogger Clix said...

Hurray for you! It's too bad that every day can't be that wonderful, isn't it? :)

Monday, February 04, 2008 6:43:00 AM  
Blogger J said...

that is amazing! congratulations on all your hard work paying off! you are really making a difference with your students.

Monday, February 04, 2008 1:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome! Oh, way to go and look at you.... inspire me. Boo. Just when I was ready to throw in my own towel for teadching. Well not really, but I am in your previous funk. So thanks for the inspo

Monday, February 04, 2008 5:09:00 PM  

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