Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 04 2013

A+ brings sobbing

Been a while. I almost forgot I have a blog.

Today the iPads arrived. More: a parade arrived! Principal rolling the cart, AP telling me she’s nervous, Curriculum Coordinator taking notes, iPad coach man chatting up my kiddos, Literacy Coach explaining what “interfere” means, and Parent Center Coordinator snapping some shots, probably for the school website.

I am so grateful and excited for the iPads, but mostly used iPad time today to check out. It was overwhelming to have so much all at once. I did know that iPad man was coming and that iPads would arrive this week. I did not know they would be joined by five other district officials and an expectation to create iPad specific tasks in the middle of reading an assigned chunk of text. But we did it in a flurry of educreation bliss, and then they were gone, hustling the iPad cart to the fifth grade class we’re sharing our devices with.

The best very best part of the day was findin gout my district is giving my classroom its own wireless router. YES DEAR LORD YES. CLASS DOJO ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. I SHALL USE MY IPAD SO CONSTANTLY AND WITH SUCH JOY.

In other news, I am in love with all of my students and all of our volunteer penpals. It has been a joy to witness their excitement and obsession with their penpals.

There was also this huge bright shining ball of utter bliss when a student of mine started crying after school today. He is medicated ADHD, definitely struggles with the ability to transfer thoughts into writing (with atrocious grammar and spelling), who is bright, energetic, and an awesome auditory learner.

When he was crying I was honestly shocked. Completely baffled. It appeared to be entirely unprovoked, or solely provoked by him getting his homework out of his backpack. Turned out to be the latter.

Why?

“Work”

“What about work?”

“It’s hard.”

“Look. Let me show you,” I open his homework binder to this weeks work, which is so far at 100% for Monday and Tuesday. “This is hard? This 100% is hard?”

I turn the page to his “graded work” section.

“Let’s look at last week. Hm. an 84? That’s a B. That was hard?” Page flip. “And this? Week 13? You got a 90%. An A. That was hard?” Flip. “Week 12. A 78%. That’s the first week you stayed after to get it finished with me.

Then week 11. “And this week? This is a 18/50. 36%. You know what you did when you got this grade? Nothing. You didn’t cry, or yell, or care. At all. You didn’t blink. And now, when you make 100%, you tell me it’s hard and your crying. Why?”

He looks down. Tears are streaming. His face is red. Never, never have I seen him cry. Let alone this intensely.

Last week this student wrote that I am his second favorite teacher because I force everyone to work. Yesterday he used me as an example of determination because I make sure everyone learns.

“I don’t think it’s too hard. I don’t think you even think it’s too hard. You have a 100% not because you finished, but because you did it correctly. I think you are realizing that you don’t need to fail anymore. In the beginning of the year you let yourself fail, and now you don’t want to. Now you know you can do it.”

His tears calmed. He wiped each eye with a tissue and alternated between staring at his knees and glancing at my eyes. His are the same as Q’s, whose uncle passed this year. There is something deep, beautiful and deep. Something I’m not sure I’ve had from other students. Something maybe I didn’t think I deserved.

But for those two I might embrace it, I might let it settle on my shoulders: their trust. They trust me. They believe I can help them be better, and they let me try.

That conversation, in which he said likely 4 words and did the rest in nods and shakes, was probably the best conversation I’ve had all year.

(Can’t end this without huge props to partner-teacher, without whom these stories would not exist. YES PARTNERSHIP. YES HIGH EXPECTATIONS. YES.)

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