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Monday, March 14, 2016

I set him up on purpose.

I had a hard time deciding what to write about today. Not because I don't have any good things to share. Not because nothing good happened today. Not even because I couldn't figure out which story to tell. I think today was hard because the story I most want to tell, sounds like a story I told a few days ago about another student.

My student teacher is in charge and that affords me the luxury of concentrating my energies a little differently.

Friday, a colleague mentioned that she had a handful of Juniors who were steadfastly refusing to attempt assignments by simply saying "No thank you" and doing nothing.

Of course, I asked her to name names because I had many of those students in 9th grade and I can sometimes capitalize on that older relationship.

She named a student, let's call him Reggie. Now, I know Reggie. I had him as a freshman and he had the teacher across the hall from me last year. Reggie has never been an exceptional student.

He is too playful, too social. He runs too hot and cold. Sometimes he does every assignment. Other times he lets weeks go by where he does virtually nothing. Such has been his way for at least three years.

Last year, his periods of do-nothingness were shorter and less frequent. He was a member of a very difficult English class. He found it both pleasant and easy to be the superstar.

This semester, this year really, Reggie has reversed that trend. He failed several classes first semester and he has single digit percentages this semester as we head towards the end of third quarter.

Anyway, enough background.

This morning, I ran into Reggie in the hall near the elevator. I snagged his arm as he passed and said "Hey Reggie, I need to talk to you later."

He stopped, "Wait, what? What do you mean?"

"Oh nothing, you'll see. I just need to talk to you later. Don't worry about it." I replied.

I started to turn away and continue down the hall when he called "Wait, am I in trouble?"

"No," I smiled, "Your not in trouble, I just need to talk to you later. You'll see. Don't worry about it."

I walked away, but I could feel his eyes burning a hole in my back as he frantically wondered what I could possibly need to see him about.

I set him up on purpose. I wanted him to spend the day contemplating why I wanted to see him, cataloging his missteps, trials, and tribulations.

And he did. He reported across the hall for seventh hour, where, I was told later, he immediately requested permission to come see me because I wanted to see him.

He came in and I asked him to pull up a chair near the student desk I was sitting in at the time.

I won't bore you with the details. Reggie told me "School just isn't me." I told him to get over himself and stop trying close doors on opportunities just because he isn't sure which one he wants to walk through.

It was a loooooong conversation. Finally, he agreed to try. I asked him to pick two classes to focus on improving his grade. His immediate response "Not algebra."

"So what then?" I insisted. He said, "I guess, English and Chemistry, cause I know them teachers will help me if I ask."

"Good! You have 24 hours." I said, "By this time tomorrow, you need to talk to both of them. I will be checking. I know you are so much better than this and I want to see you prove it."

"Ok, Ms. Hirsch, ok, I got you." Reggie said. He got up and left my classroom without a glance back.

And I held my breath. I thought for sure that abrupt departure was a sign that I had missed the mark.

Then the bell rang and I watched the entire class across the hall leave. Everyone but Reggie. He stayed for 10 minutes. He asked for forgiveness and he asked for help raising his grade. His teacher told me so.

Maybe the change is a blip, a temporary thing. Maybe not. Either way, it was a good thing.

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