It was a disgusting 30something degrees out in Florida this morning and I was stopped for TWENTY minutes (not bitter at all…) waiting for a train to cross on the way to school. When I got to school, very late (for my usual early-ness) and started throwing together my day, my computer wouldn’t work. One of my students came in more agitated than a normal Monday called for, even for him. I am sad to say that he used the words outloud that I may have been thinking in my head. I allowed him to, I knew where he was coming from. And then, came the silver lining.
“Miss, I’m not in the mood. Can I make you a deal?” Now, that’s not exactly what he said. His version was more…. colorful. Nevertheless, I heard him through.
“I’ve had a horrible morning already and I’m just not in the mood to sit next to (insert other student’s name here). Can (friend’s name) sit by me, please? I promise that I’ll do work and pay attention.”
Truthfully, this caught me off guard for several reasons. First of all, this student RARELY gives me the time of day. Even when I pull him aside away from his friends and allow him to dictate what he would want me to teach him. I’ve emailed and discussed things with his past and present teachers as well as my mentors and nothing has worked. He is behind in receiving class credits and just recently moved up a grade, but that in no way means he is behind academically. He’s probably a genius and reads literally a book a day. And I am regularly at a loss as to what to do or give him that he will actually complete besides simply reading a book a day. Second, he even shared with me why he was angry. Every single detail was said. Out loud. To me. Whenever I usually ask him how he’s doing he gives me a blank stare. Third, I thought I had try to make this deal with him before, to no avail, but here he was offering it up on the table again.
And you know what happened when I said “yes?” He did his work. His friend did their work. They listened and worked in the group like I’ve wanted for circa the past 3 quarters.
He even helped talk me through some ideas he had for a life-size Rot and Ruin (by Jonathan Maberry) Candyland game my friend and I are putting together for our school’s Family Literacy Night this week. He loves the book and remembered all kinds of things I had forgotten. He finished the conversation with “I hope that helps.” And then the heavens opened and the angels sang (literally, I heard angels… or the restart sounds of my computer… neither here nor there). And suddenly my day took a different turn. When he turned in his poetry reflection for the day, I asked him if we could make this a permanent thing. He said something to the effect of “Heck yes.” I think I stood stunned for a few minutes. I tried to hide it, I swear.
How come this worked today? I have no idea. Will it work tomorrow? I hope so. A small step in the right direction? I count it as a giant leap.