Not every “Heart Hinge” is a lighthearted story, and this is one of those occasions. I prefer to think of my day’s experience as the first layer in a multi-layered narrative, because I DO know it will have a happy ending. I will make sure of it.
It’s been 24 hours, and I’m still thinking about this adorable little student of mine, and his big brown eyes filling with tears. He tried to hide them, which was even more endearing, so he put his head down. I hugged him and told him he could take a friend and leave the classroom to get a drink of water. He gratefully accepted the offer.
Since the first day of school we have had a Word of the Day. We read them, write them, talk about them, scramble and unscramble them, send them home as flash cards… and last Friday was our Incentive Day. Since it’s only September, this day sends home a message for the year: do your homework and pay attention in class.
I have one little guy who would much rather “help me.” He likes to follow me around and chatter. He craves my attention, and I give it to him every chance I can. Did I say he’s adorable? Adorable. We’re only in First Grade. Everyone’s adorable.
So when the two of us sat down so I could listen to him read, it became apparent that he had done very little practice on his own. And a teacher can only wave that Magic Wand so many times before a student finally has to decide for himself, or herself, I want to learn more. I had to deny him the reward that many of the others received. Right down to my soul, I felt his disappointment, his introspection, perhaps even his surprise. He had just learned he can’t sit down in an instant and rattle off words. He will have to put forth more effort.
These are the moments that a teacher is reminded that she (or he) is much more than an accountant. We do not add up the score, determine the percentage, record the numbers, and whisk it away. Oh, no! That moment is merely the beginning of the task. The essence of a true educator is to inspire, motivate, remind, exemplify, prepare, facilitate, demonstrate, and persevere. ALL of this is teaching. By the time I am through with him, Austin will not only be an accomplished reader, but will have assimilated the whole experience of goal achievement. It has to begin inside him.
Something tells me that with Austin’s failed attempt, he grew. I watched him change from uninterested to unstoppable. My heart is connected to his, and he doesn’t even know it. And he has no idea how much I look forward to seeing his smile on Monday morning.
Please note: No worries– the story is true but not the picture, nor the name!