Everyone knows teachers are not supposed to play favorites. We usually have a few that we rely on to answer questions, run errands, know will behave with the sub, and so on. However, there is always one student who stands out for some reason. Most of my class wouldn't be able to pick out this student if you were to ask who was my favorite.
Every year there always seems to be one child who affects me differently than the others. This year it is Charlie (To be honest, that's my dog's name, not the real student's name, but they both hold a place in my heart). He is THAT KID. As with many other students from past classes, Charlie came to me from a different school hoping for a new start. He had been labeled a major behavior problem, had trouble keeping up with the class, and was not well liked. At the beginning of the year, Charlie seemed to be on the same path as he had created at the other school. Other students complained that he was causing problems. He was quick to say it was never his fault. In class, he was constantly moving and never seemed to be doing what he was supposed to be doing. I was irritated with what I was seeing/hearing on a regular basis. Charlie's parents and I were having regular communication of what was going on in school, most of it not positive. It was going to be a very LONG year.
While I can't pinpoint when the change happened exactly, I do know it was sometime around Halloween. I began to notice how often he was trying harder than the other students, how he raised his hand quickly with that look of "I know this!" on his face, how much he was willing to help his classmates with something he knew how to do. Charlie didn't always have the right answer when he was called upon, but boy was he willing to share. The other kids were becoming more open to letting him help them, especially when it came to the technology stuff that he seemed to have a knack for. There were less problems on the playground as well.
Nine months into the school year, Charlie still needs reminders to get back to work. He still has the "I know this!" look on his face on a regular basis, even though he doesn't always know the words to share the ideas. I still talk with his parents, but no longer does it need to be daily. Somewhere over the course of the year, Charlie and I learned what the other needed. He shares things with me, and I give him space to do what he needs while still doing what I need. All it takes is a look from me and a smile from him and all is right between us, even when I should be getting irritated.
A couple of months ago, Charlie and I were talking after school. When I brought up something I am going to be doing next year, Charlie's response, "Well, I can do it since I am going to be in your class again!" (He knows I am most likely going to keep some of my current students when I have another combination class.) Back in August, I would have calmly explained that it was way too early to know who I would have again. Now, I will happily write his name on any list I create when thinking about next year's students. For me, Charlie is no longer the student that every teacher hopes they don't get in their class. He has become THAT KID who will always remind me of why I became a teacher.
What I learned:
-Everyone deserves a second chance.
-When respect is given to students, they try harder than when they just get labeled.
-Kids are the real reason I teach.
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching