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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reflection

The school year was coming to an end and I celebrated a job well done by taking my students out for ice cream. As I watched David calmly make his selection, I had a rare flashback to September...

Hoping to start off the year on a positive note, I'd worked out an incentive plan that would have all the kids earning rewards within the first few days. Positive expectations are for the birds -- It took the most cooperative kid more than two weeks. (I quickly learned to use smaller increments, but you do need to stick to your word before you can safely change the plan...)

I made a big deal of letting David choose his reward, hoping to reinforce him as well as encourage the more behaviorally-challenged kids to catch up. But for some reason, David didn't seem so excited. His eyes kept darting away from my enticing array of colorful school supplies. Finally, they settled on me.

"Teacher," he pleaded earnestly, "which one should I take? The blue or the green?"
"You can have whichever one you want, David. You earned it."
"But which is nicer, Teacher?"
"They're both beautiful. Choose one that you like."
But David either didn't know what he liked or couldn't trust himself enough to choose it, even after I assured him that he could pick one at the time and earn the other the next week. After casting another frantic look around, he took the blue pencil back to his seat. Moments later...
"Teacher, I changed my mind. I want the green one."
It broke my heart (which was in tatters by June) but I knew what had to be done. David had to learn to respect his own decisions.
"David, you made a fine choice. You're going to enjoy the blue pencil and draw great pictures with it. I'm confident that you can earn another prize next week and add the green one to your collection."

He gave me another look of desperation, but I kept my face steady and prayed that he wouldn't get depressed over the incident. True to my word, he drew prolifically with the blue pencil and was proud of his prize as the other students looked on enviously.

"No! I want the chocolate kind of sprinkles. Thank you."
Never before had I been so delighted to spring for a sprinkle cone...

3 comments:

halfshared said...

There's nothing like seeing a child progress that makes teaching so worth it. Makes me sorry that I do what I do.

The Babysitter said...

I like how you handled the situation.

And that was a great ending!

Showed you accomplished, and what you taught him stuck with him.

Tiffiny said...

This is awesome!