Impossible is Nothing

Despite being trained as a Teaching Fellow to teach based on a foundation of high expectations, that concept is surprisingly hard to put into practice in the early stages of teaching. The truth is, as I've said before, it's hard to see past behavior and see pure academic performance. It's harder still to question yourself, and ask what you haven't tried, when it feels like you're doing everything you can. It's not until you start to get a grasp on classroom management and the fundamentals of teaching in general that you have the energy and capability to address these concerns fully.

I'm thinking today of Gary Coleman Jr., a student who seemed literally incapable of sitting still in his seat and doing his work. Instead he was content to run around the classroom pouring other students' pencil shavings out onto their desks or just destroying their work. Although he was already on an IEP, I was convinced he needed stricter support, perhaps a paraprofessional or a smaller class. Five months later, he's still prone to the occasional disrespectful outburst - towards me or a classmate - but he does his work now 90% of the time. When you're a novice you can't see past your own exhaustion to understand that things can change and students can improve.

I also felt a sense of triumph today when I asked Bambi to share her reading response. Bambi has been practically mute for most of the school year. Even simple questions (How was your weekend?) didn't elicit a response. But after making it a point to get the class silent and give the floor to Bambi, I'm finally hearing her voice. Again what I thought for so long to be a learning disability of some kind was just a tough obstacle, but one that could be overcome.

Almost all of my kids have problems of one sort or another. These can seem to be insurmountable. It certainly felt that way in September and October (and November...). But, lately I've been surprised how much can change. But first you have to believe it's possible.

Note: I realize I've ripped off my post title from Adidas, but it's 11:33, I'm tired and running low on originality.


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