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What a difference a week makes

September 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Last week in my mentoring visit we had to coax V to play Crazy 8s with us and then I had to give him a LOT of support as we played (including peeking at his cards so I could double-check his moves). This week it was just me and V in the library, and instead of reading a biography – his hands-down favorite activity – he asked if I brought Crazy 8s and if we could play. I dealt the cards, we played…and it went really smoothly. I never had to check his hand, he handled it gracefully when he almost won but then I changed the color, and he handled it gracefully many turns later when I ended up winning.

Not only have we never played Crazy 8s so well, we’ve never played any game so well. It was like he grew a whole year in just the last week – suddenly able to remember and follow the rules, make strategic choices, and be a good sport. I have no idea what caused the big change, but I’m incredibly proud of him.

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Pretty much

September 16, 2014 Leave a comment

I saw one of my former first graders, now in 5th grade(!) this morning. She came over and wrapped her arms around me in a side hug. “So,” I said, looking down at her, “when I talked to you in June you predicted you’d spend the summer on the computer and text messaging. Is that what you ended up doing?”

“Pretty much,” she said.

Crazy 8s

September 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Over the course of my last year of mentoring, another of my former students slowly wormed her way into our sessions. She started by lobbying – hard – for one, just one, meeting in December. I talked with her teacher and with my original┬ástudent and finally agreed. Every week after that she’d see me in the lobby and ask “can I come with you today?” until I finally agreed to a second session, then a third…and before I knew it she was joining us every other week. It worked out better than I expected. She’s gregarious and highly social, but she’s never seemed to mind much how “off” my other student is. She lets him be him while still (mostly) politely standing her ground if he’s truly out of bounds socially.

Last week, my first week back this school year, she started on the lobbying again as soon as she saw me. I said that since her teacher had no idea I was even there, we’d have to wait until this week, at least, so I could see if it was okay.

This week, having gotten permission from both her teacher and my other student, I was looking forward to telling her that she could join us. Spying me in the lobby she made a beeline for me: “Can I come with you today?” Then, without even waiting for my response, she continued, “But you said you’d talk to my teacher! You said–”

I held up my hand to cut her off. “Whoa! Want to let me talk? I was about to say that I talked to your teacher and you can come with us today.”

She had the good grace to smile sheepishly.

We spent a lot of the time together playing Crazy 8s with the $1 deck I got at Target. She was awesome at it – beat me multiple times, using actual strategy. She kept protesting that I wasn’t supposed to look at the other student’s cards though, and I had to keep shushing her because there’s no way he could play the game without the support I can give him from peeking. I like that having her with us means that he’s willing to try the game – when he played just with me last year he threw the cards down in frustration and said the game was stupid, but if she and I are playing, he wants to give it a try.

So I’ll be taking her every other week this year. I give her credit – she’s relentless, sure, but it gets her what she wants and needs, and it’s been a positive thing for all of us in the end.

Categories: Relationships, Teaching Tags: , ,

Real motivation

September 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Had my first day back to school mentoring my former student. He was disappointed when the morning announcement didn’t say his class was one that had earned “free┬áseating” in the cafeteria. I said, “so the seats are assigned right now until each class shows they can make good choices?”

He responded, “No, I think they just want to make us miserable.”

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