One of the most exciting things I have experienced as a teacher at Institute so far is the enthusiasm in the eyes of a student who has done well.
Very few, if any, of my students look enthused as they walk through the classroom door in the morning. It’s early. It’s summer. Their friends are home. They are in summer school. Often, because they have failed standardized testing.
I have a class of sixteen students. They are very social and appear to be friends. They like to have a good time. They are very energetic, very perceptive and very bright.
Did I mention they are cool? Because they are very cool. Every single one of them. So cool that merely being in their presence has made me remember exactly what it was like to be in middle school. So cool that one of my students actually wore a sweatshirt over half of his face all day long rather than be seen with a pimple on his chin. These students are cool.
You know what is even cooler than my students? The fact that they want to learn and love it when they succeed. This hit home with me earlier this week. I give a short assessment at the end of every class. It is always multiple choice, and it always has five questions. We have a tracker on the wall of the class, and if a student gets eighty percent or higher correct, the student gets a sticker beside his or her name on the tracker. The students recently have been getting more and more excited to see if they do well on the assessment.
Earlier this week, a student who is not always engaged in class was the only student in the class to get a perfect score on the assessment. During our academic intervention hour, I leaned in and whispered to her, “You got a perfect score on the assessment today. You were the only one. Way to go! Good job!” And ever so briefly, in front of me and in front of her friends, her eyes lit up, and she excitedly clapped her hands in front of her face. Then, just as suddenly, she was cool. She leaned back in her desk and shrugged her shoulders. But I know. I know she wants to learn. I know she wants to do well. I know she was proud. And I know she will try harder to do it again.
And I know I will do my best to help her do it again. Just to see that enthusiasm one more time before the summer is over.