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Sunday, September 4, 2016

The latter matters more.

I am losing one of my favorite students.

On purpose.

By design even.

This young man, let's call him Leon, is adorable.

He is also huge, talkative, and popular.

And he wants desperately to be successful this year.

Unlike most kids his age, he is positively fixated on college.

Unfortunately, he also doesn't have the strongest academic skills.

His confidence is super low.

And he is easily distracted.

He is also a member of my, how do I put it, most "rambunctious" group.

The dynamic of this particular class is, well, just loud.

There are a number of friends together.

There are a number of task avoiders.

There are a few with over-sized, extra large personalities.

There are about ten with special needs.

Leon is needy in a different way.
Every assignment, every question, he wants immediate reassurance that he is doing things correctly.

He wants help.

See, Leon, unlike many kids, lacks confidence because he knows his skills are weak.

He knows his behavior can be problematic.

He knows he won't make it to law school on his own.

He is aware of how quickly he can completely ruin his chances of success.

Based on the dynamics of the class Leon is in, I have been thinking about trading a couple of key kiddos with the other ELA 9 teacher that hour.

This is not exactly something I want to do.

But it is something I believe will help all of us.

At first, I wasn't sure who would be best to move.

Who will benefit the most?

Who has the biggest influence on our current dynamic?

Who can handle the change without being hurt?

I had a few ideas, but I wasn't sure.

Of course, part of the reason I can't decide is because I like my students.

This is the time of year where I am in love with their potential.

After talking to my co-teacher, it occurred to me that Leon might benefit from the change.

The other class in question is just as big as mine.

I'm told; however, that they are a calmer, quieter group.

So I asked Leon for his opinion.

I was genuinely unsure of his reaction.

Maybe he would be offended or hurt thinking I didn't want him in my class--that happens sometimes.

Maybe he would be angry--that's happened too.

But Leon surprised me.

I asked to speak to him just before class.

"Leon, how would you feel about maybe moving to a class with fewer distractions or friends?" I asked, with some trepidation.

This was his response:

"Yes! Really? Can I do that? There are so many people in here who distract me!" he practically screamed.

Then he stopped. His eyes got even bigger (if that is possible) and continued:

"My bad! I like your class Ms. Hirsch, I like you! I don't mean I don't want to be here."

The poor baby looked so nervous that he was offending me or hurting my feelings.

A little role reversal there, huh? Irony.

I reassured him that though I would miss him terribly, his success was far more important.

That was at lunch.

It is 7:00 p.m. the same day.

Leon has asked me no less than four times about when he might move.

Like he came by after school to talk about it again...and ask three questions about the homework he had already emailed me.

As luck would have it, the other teacher was absent until Wednesday, so no moves were made until then.

Poor Leon, the tension and worry and eagerness to be successful pours off him in waves.

He radiates anxiety.

I will be soooo sad to see him go.

I will be soooo proud to see him succeed.

The latter matters more.

The first day after the move, I asked him how he liked it.

"I love it," he said, "so far, but I still like you."


He can, and probably will, still come see me after school for help and reassurance.

Sometimes good things come at you sideways in unexpected ways.

Leon's desire to succeed outweighs everything else.

For a freshman with a, shall we say, checkered middle school history, there just couldn't be a better thing.

1 comment:

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