It is easy to forget how powerful we are as teachers.
How much influence and impact we have.
Here is an example:
I have a young woman in my fifth hour.
Let's call her Linda.
Linda is very quiet, reserved even.
She rarely voluntarily speaks up.
In fact, she is often hidden behind her hair and her phone.
Nonetheless, Linda is a pretty decent student.
She hated NaNoWriMo and still maintains she can't make stuff up.
I disagree, but I haven't changed her mind yet.
In other, less creative, open-ended tasks, she excels.
She is an adequate writer with a strong grasp of abstract concepts and strong work ethic.
I have never questioned my assumption that she is a good student in every class.
I've never had a reason to.
But the other day she said something to me that she really caught me off guard.
First off, she rarely says anything to me, unless I ask a question.
She also rarely grins.
She smiles, but Linda is not a big toothy grin kind of girl.
As we started class the other day, she looked up at me and grinned.
I mean beamed from ear to ear.
I smiled back and she announced, "Ms. Hirsch, I went to ALL my classes today!"
"Great!" I said, but I was puzzled.
I had always assumed she went to all her classes every day.
Yeah, not quite.
Though she has only a handful of truancies in her attendance history, she has numerous tardies.
And she is routinely late to school for the day.
Later, as I thought about her attendance history, I had to wonder.
Why is she so frequently tardy?
Why was going to every class a big deal?
Why has my class been different?
I don't know the answers.
I know she comes to my class and I feel good about that.
My assumption is that something about my class plays a role.
If I could figure out what, I'd bottle it and be a millionaire.
But I'll take it.
It's a good thing.
If she also keeps going to all her other classes, on time no less, that would be a very good thing.