Hello Good People,
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and my scholars showered me with lots of love and gifts! While fist pumping with excitement about my chocolate covered strawberries, Girl Scout Cookies, hand-made cards, and Jolly Rancher Heart Shaped Lollipops (my favorite…by the way), I couldn’t help but reflect about my journey of building meaningful relationships with my scholars.
I love the type of relationship I have with my scholars. For the most part, they appreciate the great lengths I go to make sure they are on the right path. They also have, however, a “love-hate” feeling toward me. I push them to their limits and I don’t let them opt–out. I go in hard on them when they miss assignments, have sloppy handwriting, come to class without a pen/pencil, or don’t write their proper heading on assignments…which annoys them and causes them to roll their eyes (and probably cuss me out under their breath). Yet, they proudly talk about how their Math binder is their most organized one and joke about making a textbook out of all the work from it. The same scholars who roll their eyes when I “sweat the small stuff” are the ones give me hugs in the hallway, want me to sit with them at lunch, invite me to their birthday parties, and even want me to call my mom (who lives in Ethiopia by the way…) and put her on speaker-phone so that they can say “hello”.
The depth of my relationship with my scholars gives me the additional fuel and affirmation to realize my vision. I want my scholars to begin college readiness through developing exploratory mindsets where they achieve academic success on a mastery level; think, act, and plan in a neat and organized way; and participate in meaningful opportunities outside of the classroom. These traits will allow them to take charge in pursuing top tier education. One of my biggest challenges, however, is how to not lose faith in the vision. How can I get a scholar who hasn’t been able to understand that 4 quarters equal a dollar, to tell me the discount price of a given item? How can I stay motivated? How can I direct my frustration with the reality of our educations system to further empower my scholars, rather than lose hope?
I approached this challenge by working relentlessly to increase my effectiveness and change my scholars’ outcomes. I reached out to professionals who have more experience and expertise. By “reaching out,” I mean crying out of anger/frustration in my Assistant Principal’s office and demonstrating the need for urgency in helping my low performing scholars. By “reaching out,” I mean prompting the Special Services team to do thorough observations of my classroom so that they can help me put a system in place to help my challenging class. By “reaching out,” I mean constantly strategizing with my TFA manager to invest scholars and open up their mindsets about the future. By “reaching out,” I mean meeting with former middle and high school teachers (who are now Principals and Assistant Principals) during holiday breaks so that they can give me the encouragement, love, and words of wisdom I needed to keep pushing forward.
So…I am grateful for the relationship I have built with my scholars not only because they hook me up with sweet treats, but because their love pushes me to sharpen my craft as an educator. Their “academic imperfections” get me angry enough to wipe of my tears and fight for my vision. Their frustration with their setbacks prompts me to be creative, to push limits, and to improve my efforts with a sense of urgency that is unmatched elsewhere.
More to come…