Saturday, May 11, 2013

7 Days.

"Mom! Mom! Mama Sandy, I need you!"
I walked to the back table where a group of girls were working on their writing assignment.
"How much time do we have left?" my curious one asked frantically.
"About ten more minutes on this assignment," I replied, checking my watch.
"No! No, how much time do we have left this school year?"
"Fourteen more days of class and then exams. Which means you only have seven more days with me [these are my academic babies which are on an A/B day schedule]."
The entire room got quiet. One of my girls yelled from the other side, "What did she say?"
"You have fourteen school days until exams, which means you only have seven more days with me," I said.
"Mama, come here. Bring it in." One of my girls opened her arms and asked me to come over. She wrapped her arms around me and buried her face in my stomach.
This little girl was a rough one. I didn't see her smile for the first two weeks that I worked at Trojanburg. One day I complimented her outfit and I saw a little grin and I knew there was life in there, after all. I complimented and encouraged my way into her trust and have worked hard to stay there.
As she was "having emotions"  with her arms wrapped around me, one of my boys said, "I forgot to give you this!" and handed me a stack of quiz corrections. A boy who failed first quarter with a 51% is now staying after school every Tuesday and Thursday to do everything in his power to pass my class and pass it with flying colors.
Another girl pulled out her signed progress report and handed it to me. "Extra credit for me!" she squealed. I teared up a little bit as I looked at her progress report. She had drawn a picture of the two of us at the bottom of her report; we were holding hands and smiling big smiles. That wasn't the part that made me tear up, though. It was the grade of 100.3% that got me. She didn't pass one of the quarters (I forget which one) and I had been told by another teacher that she was "lazy" and "wasn't worth any extra effort." But I know this little girl as the child who scored the highest on her open-ended "Romeo and Juliet" test.
I will be the first to list my flaws for anyone who will listen. I am not the best teacher; I have so much left to learn.
I once overheard my mom telling another teacher that she was thankful that I get put with the standard-level classes. I was surprised because I fancy myself an Honors teachers. I feel that I can get on the Honors level easily and challenge yet entertain them. I also like Honors level classes because they understand my sarcasm and laugh at my jokes. My mom went on about how patient I was and how nurturing. I scoffed at her comments as my mother being a mother -- she had to compliment me, it's what mothers do.
This semester I've started to take my mother's words more seriously. When I see 112% on Romeo and Juliet tests from the girl who isn't supposed to be worth her seat and 100.3% on interims, I think that I might be in the right place. When a boy who is a holy terror for my next-door neighbor says, boastfully, "I'm Miss Sandy's boy," I start to think that I might need to re-evaluate what I want from my students.
I'm not saying these kids are special because of anything I've done. But I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I'm a better human because of these kids.