Monday, February 6, 2012

baby steps

There are some kids I just can't fully figure out. I have his one girl who is surly about 90% of the time: ignores me when I say hi as she walks in the room, rolls her eyes and makes faces when I tell her to put her phone away, sulks in her seat, doesn't want to participate, and won't make presentations or even participate in Socratic Circles. She flat-out refused to write a major paper, and ended up failing last term. Yet every now and then, a totally different girl shows up in my class. This version of her is intelligent, engaged in the class, willing to ask for help, and even allows a smile to cross her face.

The pleasant version made an appearance last week, and it was like a breath of fresh air (it's quite exhausting dealing with so much attitude from a student all the time). She was working hard on a project, asking me questions to see if she was on the right track. When it came time to do the presentations, I expected her to give me some version of her usual "I hate people and I don't do presentations" explanation. But instead, she got up and made her presentation, and actually did a nice job! Oy, I was kvelling. After the presentations, we moved into a discussion about the end of the book, and she participated a number of times, adding valuable insight to the conversation. She didn't look as though someone were pulling her teeth, but rather had a smile on her face, as though she were--dare I say it?--enjoying class. I was so excited about this development, I kept talking about it for the rest of the day.

The student didn't participate in our Socratic Circle last week (well, she did talk in the outer circle, but was silent in the more important inner circle), but she wasn't in a bad mood, and I hoped she'd be willing to participate again this week. However, her darker side returned today. She wouldn't even face forward in her seat, which was especially great considering that I was being evaluated by my coordinator today (although I think that went fairly well overall, despite a couple of these small issues). I know she has a lot of crap going on at home, as I have contacted her dad before, and this is probably all just a defense mechanism, but it kind of upsets me. I know that she is a smart, capable student, but she is her own worst enemy. I hate wanting a kid to succeed more than they want it for themselves. Last week gave me hope, but today made me worried that it was just  fluke. Hopefully it is a baby step in the right direction; perhaps her happier, more driven side will start making more appearances. I'm trying to encourage her without pushing her, and hopefully she will see that I am truly on her side.

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