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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 9 They may not remember what you said....

... but they will remember how you made them feel.

Some of the achievements that have gotten me most recognition have been the things that I have done or said in public. Since this is not about the seen accomplishments but the unseen, I won't mention my claim to "fame".

Some of my most rewarding achievements have taken place when I have made individual students feel that they were worth it. I showed them in words and actions that they were worth my time, my effort, my love, and my investment in them.

A few come to mind. There is the senior at a public charter virtual school, who had horrible family problems and who was so despondent that he wanted to quit school. I spent many hours on the phone with him and his grandmother pouring myself into his life and making him believe that he was kind, smart, and important. He graduated from high school and it changed the direction of his life. I remember another senior a couple years ago, who had to testify against his mother in court because she stole from him. He quit coming to school within a few days of graduation. Once again, I was on the phone with grandma and I tracked him down until I convinced him to come to school to take his final exams. He did and he also graduated. Then, there was A. a handsome, tall, blond and affluent junior who hated Spanish and who was completely shut down and disengaged. He would try to sleep on my class and I would refuse to allow him to even lay his head against my book shelf. I called on him every day and his response was a shrug of the shoulders. Then, one day he realized that I was never EVER going to let up on him, so he managed to get a B on a quiz and I celebrated him publicly and called his Mom. I told him that if he became engaged in class, he would pass my class and that was a turning point for him. I've had a particular soft spot for my kiddos who have lost a parent.
I could go on but this has really brought me a perspective of what really makes a difference in students' lives. It is how we make them feel each day that they are in our classes because the deepest desire of every human being is to feel validated by someone. I may be the only person that day that can or will meet that need.
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