Five Things Friday


This Five Things Friday is dedicated to five of my students who have made the most growth this year and have surprised me so much. Looking back on this past semester, these guys are the ones that confirm for me why I teach. Through the budget cuts, through the stress, through the uncertainty, and through everything in between, these ones are why we do what we do. 

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#1: For a student who started the year with his head on his desk, talking back at every chance he could. Countless times I had to ask him to leave the classroom because of defiance or disrespect. He was one I wasn't sure I could handle, as the day-to-day challenges were almost too much. Quarter one provided no assignments turned in. However, one day he stuck around after class because he wanted to re-take a test. During that time, he opened up about his family, his life, his worries, and why he did so poorly during the first quarter. He said he wanted quarter two to be different because he wanted to make his parents proud. Through staying after school, working after class and spending time with peer mentors, he totally turned his grades around and ended up with a B- instead of an F. The look on his face when he got his report card was a priceless moment!

#2: For a student I feel so bad for thinking just didn't care about school. She actually cared too much. She wanted to understand, but hadn't for a long time. When I realized that was the problem, we worked together one-on-one to get caught up. After that effort, she said she loved coming to class and couldn't believe that she was getting Bs. She said no one ever took the time to explain things to her in sixth grade before, and never thought she would pass middle school. She brought home a B+ report card for quarter two and told me that her mom cried when she got her grades. 

#3: For a student who started the year angry at everyone. Blow-ups, storm-outs, and everything in between. "Don't wake the sleeping giant" was an understatement. I wasn't sure what each class would be like on a day-to-day basis. He started opening up in his in-class journal and explaining in writing what he couldn't express with words. The conversations we exchanged taught me a lot about why he acted the way he did, and what kind of student he wanted to be deep down. We, along with other staff members, worked together to help him be as successful as he could and he brought home a B in my class from the F he had at the beginning of the quarter. He said last week, "I actually like turning stuff in because you give me feedback and I want to get better!"

#4: For the student who took matters into his own hands with more determination I've seen in a long time when he realized his grades were failing. He got rid of his video games himself when he knew they were interfering, and said that he never wanted to get Fs again because he was too lazy. He gave up lunches to get caught up and has had zero missing assignments in two months in my class. He said that getting Fs was the worst feeling he's had in middle school and never wants to disappoint himself like that again. A middle schooler giving up video games is like me giving up Starbucks... almost impossible. :)

#5: For the student who began the year not talking in class and not turning any work in. Who scurried out the door as quick as he could, but who I noticed and who I held accountable. When he realized he couldn't hide out in class and that I cared about his progress, he started trying... slowly but surely. Feedback turned into more effort which turned into better grades and less missing assignments. He surprised himself by the grades he got and with better grades came more confidence and with more confidence came more participation. Now he bounds into the classroom, is one of the first to raise his hands to answer a question, turns all of his assignments in on time and helps others with their work whenever he can. When I said, "did you know that you earned an A this quarter?" He said, "No way. You're joking. Are you kidding? Seriously? Really? I can't wait to tell my mom!"
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I could seriously tell you stories of dozens and dozens of kids making awesome growth in our school and who I think of when I get discouraged. The kids that we teach and our future generation are going to be really great. When you get frustrated by what is happening in the world, come visit a classroom. It will inspire you.
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