Today I was texting a teammate from last year who I served with on the same school team. We both worked with the same 3rd grade students with her supporting in Math and myself, supporting in English Language Arts.
She had just visited our school from last year and sent me this message:
After taking one guess, being wrong, and giving up, she then told me the name of the student. I was both surprised and not surprised. He was a student on my focus list. So I tutored and mentored him, meeting with him twice a week in a small group. He was in my homeroom class. We also interacted at lunch and recess. He was the kid who thought he was “too cool for school” and especially too cool for a City Year. Every morning, I would jokingly force a high-five with him. It was always a game to see how embarrassing I could be as his City Year.
There were moments, almost every day, where he told me he didn’t need help and that he understood the lesson, but when I would check in with him later, his work didn’t match his claim. Eventually, toward the end of the year, his walls were coming down and he wasn’t all about being right. I would catch him at recess being a total goofball with his dance moves and giant buck-toothed grin. He would raise his hand to ask a question and when I prompted him to give a little more to his answer, he did – after a little sigh and smirk. He always wanted to be the first one done and I remember always telling him, “Let’s see your best answer. You don’t have to rush. You’ve got plenty of time.”
With all of that being said, this student wasn’t the easiest to work with, but I knew he was capable of more than what he was delivering and what others may have limited him to because of his “cool guy” attitude. I don’t think I treated him in a special manner. I think I just made sure to hold him to high expectations just like I tried to with every student. I’m sure if I would’ve asked him last year,”DO YOU WANT ME TO COME VISIT YOU NEXT YEAR??”
The “cool kid” would’ve answered: Nope!
The 3rd grade goofball, deep inside, would’ve answered: YEAH!!