Success (or at least a small glimmer of hope)

My program requires that I tutor two students.  I don’t actually have students that I am “tutoring, ” because I think of that as academic help.  Since I feel like I’m helping all of my students academically (and because I already have ten years’ experience as a tutor and don’t really need this experience), I have chosen to help two students that need help with other things.  One of them seems to struggle with the whole “getting to school” thing.  I don’t know why it’s an issue for him, but he’s missed something like 49 days this year (I think some are partial days, but still).  Once he gets to school, he hits another obstacle, something called “learning.”

Last week on Thursday I asked him if he was going to start coming to school more often.  He said he just didn’t know, because it was really hard for him (something about buses being full).  I don’t remember exactly how I responded, but I did tel him that it would be really good for him to come more often, because I was starting to see some real progress in his mathematical learning, and the more often he came to class the more he’d learn – and of course then the easier it would all get.

Today, completely unprompted, he got my attention as I was walking past my desk.  He told me that he’d made it his goal to come to class every day this week.  This, I think, is amazing.  He set a goal!  It’s reasonable!  He’s likely to have success!  I was so excited about this that I was almost gushing to my CT.

Now I have no idea if my attention toward him has been part of his decision to put more effort into coming to school.  I suppose I could ask him, but it’s really not that important.  What matters to me is that two weeks ago, this same student would not do any math, because he felt completely lost.  He told me lots of people had tried to help him and it never seemed to do any good.  Friday, he did four math problems (400% improvement from the zero problems he used to do!) and today, he’s got a goal.  That tells me he’s found a reason to be hopeful.  He’s shifted from “I can’t learn math,” to “I might be able to learn math.”  Maybe I’m being a little overdramatic, but to me this kind of change is really earth shattering.  With this change in attitude, a whole universe of possibility just opened up for this guy.  My job now is to do the best I can to make sure he sees himself as having success and making progress, so he sticks with it.

Moments like this are why I teach.


1 Comment

  1. yuliasha said,

    December 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    It might seem somewhat overdramatic on paper, but I know what you mean: when you encounter something like this in a real person, it is unbelievably amazing 🙂

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