So, it's been awhile since I've blogged... ok, it's been a VERY long time. This school year has been quite the transition for me and blogging has taken an absolute back seat. I have been learning and trying so many new techniques and strategies and I plan to blog all about them later on when I have the time and energy to do so. For now, I just popped in to share a story that I don't want to forget.
At the beginning of the school year, we got a new student from Louisiana. I'm going to call him Ted. This sweet child had been moved from school to school and his overall academic progress was extremely low. His mom told us he hated school and she had felt like his previous teachers had basically given up on him. He had trouble making friends and had very low self-confidence. Heartbreaking.
As the school year progressed, Ted struggled and struggled. Vocabulary and math were very difficult for him and my partner and I realized we might need to take some steps to have him tested just to be sure there weren't other issues. Throughout the months of testing, Ted made some progress in reading. We bonded. We tried things and found that he worked best by himself so he could focus. His mom worked with him every night reading just-right books. He also claimed the right corner of my desk as "his spot." Every Friday for our weekly quiz, or for any independent assignment, he would take his spot and work his little heart out. Each week he made some gains. They were small, but they were gains. He was working hard and trying his best and I was so incredibly proud of him.
One week he was working exceptionally hard on one of our Friday quizzes. While he was in his conference class I left a sticky note on his test saying how proud of him I was and told him to keep up his hard work. That sweet baby read the note, smiled, stuck it one his shirt and wore it for the rest of the day! That moment showed me just how little praise and recognition his efforts had received in the past.
Fast forward to yesterday. The day of his initial ARD- he qualified! He would finally get the accommodations he needed and everything was set to go into place on Monday. Then, Mom shared through her tears the news that they had moved and she would be withdrawing him. Y'all, I could not stop the tears. My heart broke.
When we left the meeting his mom walked him down to the classroom so he could collect his stuff. As he stood in the doorway to leave he gave me several hugs. I have never had a kid hug me so genuinely. He even had to come back for "just one more" before walking away. I told him how proud I was of his hard work and to keep it up. He told me that he would never forget me. I truly hope he doesn't. I know I will never forget him.
After he said goodbye to the rest of the class and left, I sat down at my desk. It was Friday and we were in the middle of our weekly quiz. There was his test, in his spot, right where he had left it, half-finished. I completely broke down. It was bitter-sweet to thumb through his test and see all of the questions he had gotten correct knowing I would never see his smiling face in that spot again.
The rest of the class stared worriedly at me as I desperately tried to stop crying. It was a sweet moment to share with them because I always tell them how much I love them, but this was proof. They truly become a part of my heart.
I feel proud knowing that we were able to get Ted the help he needed even though I won't be there to see those supports in effect. I sincerely hope that he will take the confidence he gained with him and not regress. I hope that his next teacher sees the sweetheart inside that so desperately needs to be praised and encouraged. I hope that my work with him made a difference. Only time will tell.
It's days like yesterday that remind me how blessed I am to teach. I get to share a part of my students' lives and childhood and become an important part of their lives, if only for nine months. The time goes by fast and it reminded me not to take any day for granted- it could be the last day I have with them. Despite this testing season when my patience is thin and my nerves are shot, I still have the best job in the world.
I've seen this quote everywhere lately, but it rings especially true to me now.
Give all of your students a big hug on Monday!