I have taught for the past twelve years. During that time, there were only a handful of students I felt like I did not reach. One, in particular, drove me up the wall. This student – I will call him X – sat like a lump for 180 days in my 7th grade English class no matter how hard I tried. I universally designed lessons, I met with him at lunch to try to build a relationship, I provided scaffolds, deadline extensions, and exemplars. Sometimes, I even stood on my desk and tap-danced (hey, you do what you can!). X continued to fail all his classes and get suspended numerous times. I never gave up on him, but I also didn’t make a lot of progress.
Fast forward two years. I now have an office at the high school, where I am the curriculum coordinator for reading. Last week, X came to visit with a piece of paper in his hand. He shuffled his feet and looked down at the floor. No smile. No greeting.
“Oh, hello Mrs. Novak, my favorite teacher of all time. It’s so wonderful to see you,” I said and laughed, trying to make light of the fact that he didn’t say a word.
X smiled and put the piece of paper on my desk. It was his high school report card. He made honor roll.
“See, it worked,” he said, and he walked out.
That’s why we teach.