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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

And then came the tears.

Another Amed moment.

I feel there may be many of these this year, as he continues to surprise me.

Two weeks ago he was in tears.

First, I was told, he cried with his ELL teacher.

Then with his Assistant Principal.

And finally with me.

He pulled me into the hall and explained.

His grades weren't good.

He wasn't finding school easy.

He didn't know how to prioritize.

He couldn't remember what was due when and what was excused or modified for him.

And then came the tears.
I asked him a few questions, but mostly just listened.

With a little prodding, I got to the heart of the matter.

Ahmed has never before had to think for himself.

No one has challenged him to figure things out.

His comfort zone is read and regurgitate.

We have thrown him over a cliff into a zone of constant anxiety...

There is no one right answer most of the time.

And he has to try and process this change in a foreign language.

I would be flipping out too.

Anyway, I did two things that might have helped.

First, when he told me "Everyone keep telling me it is going to be ok. How do they know?"

I responded, "Because we know you are smart, determined, and hard-working. You don't trust me yet. But you will."

Then I got him a planner.

A spiral bound contraption where he could write down the details of his assignments.

I hoofed it out to the far field during last hour where he was playing soccer for his PE class and put it in his hands.

The very next morning he poked his head in my room:

"Ms. Hirsch, Dr. Riina, you have no idea, this has already helped me so much!"

He came back near the end of the next day to say he had already raised his grade in two classes.


Since then, his confidence seems to have returned.

The tears have stopped.

The work and the questions have continued to flow.

He had long conversations with other adults.

But I like to think I am playing some small role in his growth, his positive attitude, his success.

Either way, academic success is his mountain to climb.

As long as he keeps climbing, as long as he continues to strive, it is a totally good thing.

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