The Result

So, the other day I got a result I wanted.

I have one student that just clams up when I ask her questions, it is like pulling teeth. I ask her the same question multiple ways, and then, when still nothing happens, I start to explain the answer I was looking for. The hour stretches on forever with this student, for both of us. I haven’t found anything that she has interest in.

I have no idea what to do with her. She’s not the student I’m about to talk about. That just gives you an idea of how frustrating it can be. Fortunately, the next student I have after her, in the exact same grade, at least tries hard. At the end of our 90 minute session yesterday, he was surprised the alarm went off, announcing we were done. That’s the way I like it, where time just goes. Not sure we actually accomplished anything in that session, but it was definitely not like pulling teeth.

The pivotal moment was at the library. I was at the library last week, and ran into a young girl who smiled familiarly at me. I knew she was from a tutoring family, but couldn’t remember which one. Then I saw the mom, and she waved at me too. Then I saw the student.

He was from last year. No wonder I couldn’t quite place them. He was the one I gave a children’s illustrated version of Moby Dick to, since we hadn’t finished reading it and he had been enjoying it. The first thing he told me when he saw me at the library was, “I finished reading that book you gave me!” I asked how he liked it, and he said he enjoyed it. I asked how he was doing in school, and he told me good, except he flunked science. “You flunked science?!  How’d that happen?”

He told me that he forgot to hand in any of the assignments, and that his handwriting was so bad that his teacher couldn’t read it. And he hadn’t flunked, he got a D, and that was only because he participates a lot in class discussions. I asked what was he doing now to not get such a bad grade, and he said he’s handed in every assignment since, and he works on making his handwriting more legible. Always the teacher, me.

He’s a good kid, and I have high hopes for him. He has a pet rabbit and turtle, grows vegetables and plants at home, so already has a basic understanding of the life and growth cycle that most other kids without pets or gardens wouldn’t have. Pretty good for a kid who lives with four other children in a one bedroom apartment in the city! Makes you realize there really isn’t any reason to not have what you want regardless of your surroundings.

And now he’s completed reading an American classic, that I had a hand in. Success.

My dad, a former college professor, would tell us that it only took one good student (a year) to make it all worth while. I used to think that was just what he told himself to make a thankless task justifiable, especially since he taught a subject everyone thought would be easy and took  just for the credits and rarely for any actual interest. But I know he meant it. You could hear the pride in his voice when just a few students a year would decide to major in his subject. And the ones who really liked it, his face would just shine when talking about them.

So it is with this student. I have pride in my heart for who he is, and the little impact I have had on him, to make him a better student, have him take interest in history, which he said he hated. History is just stories, and there are many interesting ones to choose from. I can’t believe Moby Dick had appeal to him, but who am I to question it?

One Response to “The Result”

  1. Steve Says:

    Excellent! One student at a time is all it takes to make a big difference in the lives of those students at the very least… and the lives they go on to influence… and so on… and so on…

    I don’t comment much, but I do enjoy reading your blog. Thanks 🙂

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