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A student who will be new to AP next year stopped me to tell me she was "not a good student." This sparked an interest within me as I always want to know what is behind a student's value statement and how they have come to a notion like this.
First, I told her that there a number of "not very good students" who take college courses every year, but I was very interested in what made her think that she was "not a good student." And, then, she made me take a deep breath when she said, "Because I don't believe in myself."
And, I thought. . .there are two days of school left. What I say right now not only sets the tone for how we enter into the summer but how we enter into a challenging new course for the student in August. This is what we do friends. We must think fast. And we must think "move."
I told the student, "Here is what we are going to do. I am going to enter into a quiet contract with you. Until you have the tools in place to believe in yourself, I will believe in you enough for both of us." We're in direct eye contact at this point. She's right there with me.
I added, "And what do you think will happen when you do have those tools in place to believe in yourself? You guessed it. I'll continue to believe in you. As this is my contract with you. It does not end with your independent belief. Right now, at this moment, I believe in you."
So, imagine my delight (and serendipity) of a new @TEDTalks by @MsPackyetti: "How to Build Confidence and Spark It in Others." The new student and I are sharing emails and this is the first text we will consider and analyze together (over the summer): ted.com/talks/brittany…
It's the end of the year. What work are we still doing that could be path/life changing for a student we had this year or one that is looking forward to taking our class next year? Today, it was the right time. The right text. . .was it the right and good teacher? I don't know.
But, If I hadn't been looking already for resources into the summer and the next year, I might have missed the deeper connection. And guess what? This new student is watching the TED talk. And she will join me in considering/analyzing the talk early. . .to build confidence.
And the email I received from the student tonight? It reads, "Thank you, Mr. Hankins, for putting this together for me. I'm going to look at it right away. Thank you for believing in me." I'm thinking, "Look. . .we can give them a packet. . .or give them a path. Sometimes both.
I hope to continue the narrative with this student into the next school year. With her permissions, we might both write about how we come into confidence as teacher and student. I have to do this. She's destroyed my narrative arc. And I have to re-frame now as I reflect. . .
In this student's case, "the end" does "depend upon the beginning." No. Here, the beginning will have become dependent upon the end. How we ended the year together in contract will inform and guide how we enter into contact when we are in the room next year. I'm committed.
@AndrewSharosAP @All4sand5s: This is how we will do AP Language and Composition from this out in #Room407. This student and I will be working together to go from confidence building to exam crushing. One student. One teacher. One room. One goal. One year. Look for us. . .
Replaying the moment, I could have "fumbled" this opportunity badly. I could have been so focused on end-of-year grading and wrapping things up that I might have missed this student altogether. A new student asking to talk to the new teacher. . .this should snap us to attention.
If I thought I was wrapping up a school year, I was totally wrong. No. . .what happened here with this student was the very beginning a year to come. It will have a summer between the two classes, but a purpose has become the bridge now. Confidence building. For every student.
And I hope that my Twitter followers and friends will take a look at @MsPackyetti's @TEDTalks found here in the thread. When they do, they will find this summary comment within: "Confidence needs permission to exist and community is the safest place to try confidence on."
And. . .you might note. . .@MsPackyetti's @TEDTalks draws upon narrative and anecdote to present a portrait of potential "girl power." This is what I want this student to have. And not just a sense, but presence. So, what help might a teacher who looks like me be to her? Really?
It's as much about being an ally for students as it is being aware that I'm not the answer. I can be a part of the answer. A liaison. A concierge to texts that will provide more of that answer. If I'm not looking/seeking, she's not reading and seeing. Again. I'm under "contract."
I'm not a "fun" teacher. I'm not a zany, get-dressed-up-on-theme-day teacher. My introversion makes it almost impossible to attend inside sporting events (shiver). But, I can be the right teacher for a student like this. @Michaeljrcomedy says, "Your gift will make room for you."
This gift that I sense we share, teacher friend, is the desire to see more. . .to know more. . .to do more. The work we do asks us to be more than we present to the world; it asks us to pave the way for another trying to find their place in this world. It's our standard of care.
@threadreaderapp: Unroll me, please. So I can share with my teacher friends.
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