Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Believing

When I was in the 8th grade, I was given a special award for creative writing. My wonderful English teacher, Mrs. Mosiman, stepped forward at the school assembly and presented me with this medal; the first time it had ever been given.

She believed in me. My 14-year-old ideas were still forming, and to read my adolescent musings today would probably make me cringe and yet, back in 1976, she saw something.

I teach Science to two 6th graders. One of them is a little boy so eager to learn and do well, but who struggles in nearly every aspect of academics. His writing is extremely difficult to read and his ability to put words together is on a level much lower than his age would suggest.

Yesterday I gave him a journal; a blank book with lined pages and a bright, colorful cover. In it, I told him, he could express his thoughts and feelings, write about his day or tell stories. My one rule was that he never write anything mean or hurtful about someone else. He took it eagerly, immediately putting it in his backpack and promising to write in it faithfully.

Today, as soon as he walked in our classroom, he brought it over to me with a smile, showing me how he had filled the first page with Science news, home activities and a story about a blanket given to him by his grandmother. Though his words were still difficult to read, they were much better and fit easily between the lines. In the school setting, he dislikes writing and feels stressed while doing it. I had hoped that if he chose to write about things he liked, his penmanship would improve and he would see that there is joy in written expression.

He comes from a harsh background and his home life leaves a lot to be desired. School - and his teachers there - are a security and a safe haven. We care about and want him to succeed, despite the odds that are against him.

A little book with lined pages is just a small step. If nothing else, perhaps it will allow him a place to go - a quiet, reflective world - when his own is out of focus. But I hope that as the years go by and time moves on, he will look back and remember that there was someone who wanted to see him succeed. Someone, who believed.

7 comments:

McSwain said...

These are the things that make me want to teach. That child is lucky to have you in his life!

Connie and Rob said...

That is a wonderful story. I wish I would have been lucky enough to have you for a teacher when I was growing up. You have the degree to teach but the heart to give them an education.
Connie

Michael said...

Lori...loved your entry. As you know...my son has some learning challenges. Just having the patience and opportunity does wonders for these kids. Someone that believes in you is the best gift a person can recieve.

Rebecca said...

Did I already tell you that I wanted to give you a hug?? :)

The world needs more teachers like you. Teachers who truly care.

clew said...

This is the most wonderful story I've read since ... I'll get back to you on that.

THIS is what touching students with your teaching and changing them forever is all about. You are the best! :)

Lori said...

Cheryl - I'm really the lucky one. This child, along with all the others, is teaching me so much. There is a reason I'm here.

Connie - There are many people out there who are so much more intelligent than I am, but I think to be a good teacher, you have to possess something that there are no degrees for.

Mikester - God bless your son, but with you as his father, he's going to do wonderfully...and sounds like he already is. Go Steven!

Rebeccas - Thanks for the hug, girl! I'm not feeling well today so can really use that. For me, it's hard NOT to care, whether I'm teaching children how to write...or how to knit! (my post "Knitting 101") Children are magical...

Clew - You are wonderful. I can't imagine the world of blog without you. How blessed I am to have you as part of my life!

srp said...

You truly have a "teacher's heart" like my mom does. Someday you will meet one of your students who has gone on to great things and they will stop and tell you how much your class meant to them. It does happen.