What’s your memorable moment?
By Alex on November 13th, 2012
Many of us have moments in our lifetime we will never forget–that big birthday celebration for your dad, your wedding, the birth of a new grandchild, or even college graduation. Although all of those milestones are something we all cherish, teachers often experience memorable moments that are very unexpected. Today, Tashena Vickers, a READ 180 and System 44 teacher at South Middle School in Joplin, MO, shares her memorable moment in the classroom.
I first met Charlie in 2010 during the fall of his 6th grade year. He had moved around a lot, and been to a bunch of schools before landing in my READ 180 class that November. My initial reaction was that Charlie was your typical tough guy. Closed off. Distant. Angry. You know the type. Judging by his early behavior, I was afraid that he was going to be defiant and maybe even aggressive toward the other kids. He just came off as kind of a “hard” kid. At the end of the 2nd quarter of that year, Charlie’s Lexile score was sitting below 400. Let’s just say that I was a little worried.
Looking back, I know that first impressions aren’t always accurate. That sure was true with Charlie. By the end of 6th grade, he had really come far and increased his Lexile by over 200 points! But that’s not my memorable moment. Not yet. That happened a year later.
Charlie automatically continued with READ 180 for 7th grade. Over time, it became increasingly clear that Charlie’s true self wasn’t that of a hard kid. He was simply a kid hiding behind years of failure. Just like any other student, he wasn’t perfect, but he started to embrace those times when you could tell that he was proud of himself for the things that he was able to accomplish. Those moments along the way helped him continue to progress and gave him momentum. Once he experienced some success, his true self emerged. I discovered that Charlie was actually a hard worker who was very sincere about his education — and he had a strong desire to become a successful reader. The seal was broken. The potential was unlocked.
Now on to that memorable moment. For our 7th grade Spring Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI), Charlie set a goal to increase his Lexile by about 100 points. I supported Charlie and thought he would probably come pretty close to that goal. Boy was I wrong again! I remember the day very clearly. Charlie finished the SRI and walked up to my desk with this strange look on his face. He said, “Mrs. Vickers, I went up a little.” With those words and that look, my heart sank. I thought Charlie hadn’t reached his goal. He had once again experienced failure. Then the magic happened…
I walked over to his computer to check his score and realized that he had gained 198 points! I looked at Charlie and he had the most awesome grin I had ever seen on his face. It went from ear to ear.
Then I noticed something else: big tears welling up in his eyes. The tough guy was overcome with pride and joy.
I had never experienced a student who became emotional over their achievement. I couldn’t help myself, tears flooded my eyes, too. (I have to admit, I’m tearing up a little right now just thinking about it again!)
So what’s the net takeaway of my memorable moment? For me, it’s that every child shares this important quality: a deep desire to succeed and to feel a sense of pride. When Charlie first came to me, he was standoffish and with that tough guy exterior, he didn’t want to let anyone in. But by the end of that first year, he had become friends with other students. Then when 7th grade began, I saw him starting to help others. What changed? It’s that he was starting to feel successful — and wanted to share that with others who were struggling.
There are times when I relive that moment with Charlie. When I see his face. His grin, and those tears of pride building in his eyes. It just brings me total joy every time. So what’s your memorable moment? If you don’t have one yet, I truly hope that you experience one like mine. It makes it all worth it. For you, and more importantly, for your student.
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