The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 07 2012

Small Wins

Day 43: I’ve written before about how a teacher’s brain, or at least my teacher’s brain, isn’t always logical. The one bad class outweighs three good ones. One sour relationship clouds the thought of 50 good ones.

So, in light of that phenomenon, you look for small wins, wherever you can find them. Which brings us back to AM. AM is still giving me grief. She is actively ignoring me most of the time, because, I’m guessing, she’s figured out that disrespecting me results in calls home and silent lunches. However, that doesn’t stop her from refusing to speak to me or engage with me in any meaningful way.

Last night, AM was here for talent show rehearsal. She was sitting in the office, waiting to be picked up, when I decided to try to engage her one more time. I asked her a few innocuous questions about her civilization project for social studies. What is it called? What are its laws?

Slowly but surely, AM began to share a few details. The oceans were named for her friends’ civilizations, because the civilizations themselves were on the other side. The index cards around the poster were for extra details to be added later.

I congratulated AM on doing really good work; she nodded slowly. I wished her a good night. She responded, “You too.”

Again, it’s amazing how small wins can matter. When a student hasn’t even so much as acknowledged your presence in three days, a simple “you too” and sharing one detail that I didn’t ask for was enough to give me hope. And during these first dark and cold days, some hope goes a long way.


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