Joined: 19 Oct 2011
Never Give Up
I was ready to quit on this kid. I know, as teachers we are supposed to reach every child, educate them all, inspire them all to greatness.
But I think this student hated me—at least when we first met.
She is a fifth-grader in the school’s gifted program, which I took over this summer when I accepted a new position and relocated to a new school system. From the start, we butted heads. I began teaching the gifted group using a math program, called the Stock Market Game. Most of the kids were excited to invest virtual money in various companies and compete against other teams around the state.
She was bored.
I shared another project.
She hated it.
It seemed no matter what I tried, I could not engage this otherwise, extremely bright, creative child. When I’d enter her classroom, she’d turn her head, avoid eye contact or make a face. I had zero rapport.
So I stepped back, took a breath, thought about it. In the meantime, I chatted with her mom about the situation, learned as much as I could about this child.
Then, one day, while trying to come up with a topic for her independent study project, I learned that she was interested in journalism.
“Oh, you like journalism,” I said. “Did you know that I worked as a newspaper reporter for five years, before becoming a teacher?”
“Really,” her eyes widened.
That was the hook. We designed her project around creating her own magazine, a kid-friendly publication about music, sports, and campus news.
Since then, the project has taken a life of its own. The student has begun interviewing teachers and coaches on campus for articles; she has written opinion pieces; she’s designed her cover and created a logo. Furthermore, she has expanded the project to recruiting fellow students to work as editors, reporters, and photographers and is currently in the “hiring” process.
Our relationship has taken a turn for the better as well. Now, she runs up to me when I enter the classroom to show off an article she has written or pitch a new idea for her publication. She wrote me a thank-you note. It is like night and day.
Unfortunately, I just learned that she is moving out of state. I spoke with her mother about trying to continue the magazine project at her new school.
The situation has revived my love for teaching and the thrill I get when a student becomes totally engrossed in a project. Hopefully, this will serve as an example to other educators, as a reminder to never give up on a child, knowing that success can be right around the corner.