Today was one of those days that I remembered why I like teaching. Please understand, there are many days that I forget. Between challenging behaviors, long hours, and pressure to have high test scores, it can be easy to lose sight of why I chose this profession.
Today I remembered.
After school, I work with a group of students that need extra academic support. One student, a girl who is routinely behaviorally challenging and does not easily express herself with words, did not feel like learning. It was too much hard work. As the other students worked away at converting fractions to decimals on their white boards, she gave up.
However, our little group decided that we were not leaving her behind. She had to do the hard work whether she liked it or not because we believed she could. Still, she didn’t believe in herself.
To sweeten the deal, I told the students we would have a party if she could figure it out. Reluctantly, she and another student went to the back of the room and worked diligently for twenty minutes. They called me back. She still could not do it.
I told them to keep working, and they did, until finally she was able to show me she that understood. The look on her face told me she was proud. We were all proud. The students cheered, the CD player flew on, and we danced, and laughed, and played catch with their stuffed class mascot, a Husky.
Still, the student was quiet. She was too busy doing something to join us. I didn’t know what it was. Then, she appeared, proudly holding up what she had typed on her Barbie laptop, her show-and-tell for the day:
Mrs. M, You’re Nice.
I smiled, she smiled, then she joined the dance party. The afternoon light soaking through my windows, happy children dancing because they were proud to learn and help each other, I felt happy. I danced too.