Friday, January 09, 2009

Student Of The Month

On my way to drop off some stuff at central copy, I noticed the bulletin board outside the Principal's office was full of pictures of students of the month. I recognized quite a few faces. They were kids in my AP classes, all with averages over 100. I was not surprised to see them there. I then noticed Sam's picture. Sam is one of my geometry "knuckleheads". I love Sam, he is passing the class, but not exactly what I would consider student of the month material, at least not in my class.

Walking away from the bulletin board, I ran into Sam. I congratulated him a few times and really raved about his accomplishment. He was so proud of himself. He told me he took pictures of the bulletin board to show his parents. I then asked him how he got up there. His answer "I have no idea." I only have a 76 average. I told him that he probably excels in one class. He said emphatically, NO! I said, maybe he improved tremendously in one class. Again, he answered NO! He said the principal called him down, took his picture and said "Congratulations." Someone else just told him to feel proud.

I'm sure Sam was told why he got this special recognition. I'm glad he got it. Putting his picture on the board was great for his self image. In fact, I know it meant a lot more to him than it did to the kids with the 100+ averages. They either never mentioned it or just shrugged it off. I'm hoping more kids like Sam get to see themselves up there.


Mr. Talk said...

I once had a troubled girl in my class, disrespectful to almost everyone. I convinced her that if she just tried in my class when she felt she could, I'd leave her alone when she felt angry (believe me, it was easy to tell). It worked. Despite having been suspended numerous times and not working for other teachers, she began working for me. I awarded her Student of the Month--this was back when teachers could choose. It pissed off the admins and deans, but I did it anyway. The girl was golden for the rest of the year--but only for me.

Everyone thought I was a miracle worker because I had tamed a beast, but it was a simple matter, really. Sometimes, the best teaching comes in the form of gentle encouragement and negotiation. My hat's off to whoever gave Sam that award--he will spend the rest of the year trying to live up to it.

Kim Hughey said...

I loved Mr. Talk's comment above. Your story and Mr. Talk's warmed my heart. They reminded me of a young girl I taught my first year. I was really struggling with classroom management in all my classes, but one in particular was very difficult. This one young lady was the "queen bee" of the class and we had a real battle of the wills going as far as who would be in control.

One teacher gave me some advice to put her in charge of something. I did, but I can't even remember what it was. She did a great job and I sent a note home to her mom saying how proud I was of her and how well she was doing in my class (mostly lies, but sometimes you have to stretch the truth).

This tough little girl came into my class the Monday after getting the note and thanked me and said her mom "ungrounded" her and gave her $20 because not a single teacher had ever said anything good about her in her entire school career.

For the rest of the year, that young lady gave me very little trouble and was my strongest ally.
She became like the teacher's aid. When the students got out of hand, she would correct them. It was pretty humorous. I will always remember her and what the power of a little praise did for a difficult situation.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite awards is for Most Improved. When kids work their butts off, they deserve recognition.
I had a 5th grader who had a mother that never came to anything. At the end of the year award ceremony I wrote her that her son would be honored with an award. She never showed up. I was glad he got the award and I know he was too.

Congrats to Sam.