Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Making a Difference II

Whenever I pray in the morning (sorry, I'm not very devout, so I don't always remember), I ask God to use me to make a difference for kids. Every single time I do that, He follows suit. Today was no exception, only with a little twist.

Robert and I haven't been getting along too well, ever since he spent that week on the "F-List," unable to wrestle, a few weeks back. We just have this adversarial relationship most of the time; I hound him about his homework, call home and narc him out to his family about it, etc. He glowers at me and fights me at every turn but is passing, nonetheless. There just isn't much time during which either one of us smiles at each other anymore. Frankly, I've been getting tired of putting in so much work that is obviously not appreciated by Robert.

Last weekend, I was grading journals (which we do every couple of weeks) when I came upon one of Robert's entries (from when he was on the F-list)....

"I wish I was still in wrestling. I had to quit because I was falling off task.  I failed my goal, and no turning back, I have to catch up.  I just wish life is easy.  Life isn't fair.  I tried to be like everyone else. I just can't."

Broke. My. Heart.

Today, Robert said casually, in homeroom, "There's a wrestling tournament tonight. At school."

I was distracted and replied, "Oh, really? Are you wrestling?"  I don't remember what he replied, because, honestly, I was too busy to think about it and got distracted.

Later, in the last class of the day, Robert said again, "Mrs.4444, did you know there's a wrestling tournament at school tonight?"

"Oh, that's cool," I replied. "I should try to go to that if it doesn't get cancelled because of the weather."  I was very busy (again), so I didn't notice if he responded.

An hour later (about 4:30pm), I was working late (waiting for Kyle to finish swim practice at 5:30pm) when an "Alert Now" message about a wrestling practice being canceled popped up on my screen, and had a fleeting thought that I was glad I was off the hook.  At 5pm, something told me to open that message, and I saw that it was actually for the grade school, not the middle school. Shoot. That meant the wrestling tournament was probably going on in the gym, and I had missed half of it. I quickly packed up and headed down.

Robert had already wrestled one match (I think that's what they're called, anyway.)  I could see him sitting across the gym with his team.  I wasn't sure if he saw me sneak in so late or not. A nice man checked the schedule for me, and I saw that Robert had one more match left, so I sat down to wait. As luck would have it, about 30 minutes later, Robert walked up for his match on the mat right in front of the bleachers I was sitting on!  He looked so pumped and focused!!

I know nothing about wrestling, but I know it's exciting! Robert is a short little guy, but stocky, strong, and persistent!  In the first period (I think there are three), I found myself yelling, "Get 'em, Robert!"  The referee (or whatever he's called) blew his whistle to apparently end the first period, and I kid you not, that kid stopped for a second, looked directly up at me in the stands, and flashed me a smile that lit up his whole face! He quickly got back to business and cleaned up on his opponent, winning the match in no time. I was especially impressed by the way he listened to every word his coach said to him during the match, adjusting his footing, rising up, etc. and attentively listened to his coach's feedback after the match.

My heart is full from seeing Robert dominate the wrestling mat and feel so proud of himself, his little chest puffed out, arms pumped up.  What I realize, as I reflect on this now, is that tonight, Robert made a difference in me, and I am not ashamed to tell you that it chokes me up to realize that. I am reminded that smiles like those, self-esteem boost,s and moments of pride-filled elation, are what make every bit of effort teachers put in worth it,

and I am going to keep harassing that little stinker.

25 comments:

  1. That would have to be better than any paycheck.
    I hope my kids have teachers like you!

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  2. he wanted you there. how wonderful!

    keep at it!

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  3. I'm so glad you went to the match.

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  4. How great is that? You should pat yourself on the back! Yeah and totally ride him to do his work.

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  5. How wonderful. In future years, you are going to be the teacher that he remembers.

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  6. You make more of a difference than you even realize. You will be remembered by Robert and many other students for your obvious dedication and genuine desire to make that difference! Good for you!

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  7. You both rock. And were obviously meant to cross paths. I bet he will remember that moment just like you for a long time to come.

    Hallie :)

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  8. Damn, that was good to read. As a parent, just as you, as a teacher, I have always struggled with the notion that there must be SOME way to grow an interest in LEARNING in our children that would equal their interest in other things like sports or computer games or whatever else there is out there to occupy their time and minds.

    Oh that Robert could find as much desire to discover new stuff - to LEARN - as he has for wrestling.

    But good job, you.

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  9. I'm glad you both are benefitting from your 'adversarial' relationship. Sounds like you both have earned each other's respect.

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  10. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful part of your life with us! I do hope my children get a teacher like you! Funny, you mention praying in the morning, I just shared with my 4 yr old about how I pray every morning, or at least try to, and how she can do it to, to set the tone to her day.

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  11. I admit it; ya got me. Here I am, all teary-eyed in my classroom during my prep. Thanks for the reminder--we do make a difference, just like they make a difference to us.

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  12. Every kid needs someone in the bleachers cheering him on. I'm so glad Robert had you! Sometimes you are makin' a huge difference even when it's not evident. Thanks for being there for this student and caring about your kids!

    God bless and have a super day!!!

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  13. The WORST thing you could do at this point would be to stop pestering him; he needs to know you care, plain and simple. Well done!

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  14. That is so awesome. This kid is going to remember you; you're making an impact!

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  15. This makes me so happy. Kids just want to know you are in their corner; I bet this will pay dividends for awhile.

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  16. Great job teach! Robert is lucky to have you.

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  17. He needed someone to care and you have consistently done that. I am so happy I get to watch this story unfold. I am really proud to know you. Keep praying.....

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  18. For the record, Robert does have some great family in his corner, too. It's so much easier when we can work with parents as our partners.

    msprimadonna67-You are too sweet. I know you know what I'm talking about, for sure! :)

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  19. I'll bet that you made his day, being there! :0)

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  20. WOW! Either way you look at it, Robert won just by having you there and in his life! :o)

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  21. Great story. He was lucky to have someone so supportive.
    Lindsey Petersen
    http://5kidswdisabilities.wordpress.com

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  22. what an amazing and uplifting story - you rock as a teacher!

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  23. So glad you saw Robert wrestle--those little things mean a lot and obviously he wanted you there or he would not have kept mentioning it to you. I would think by going to his match, it will improve your relationship with him.

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  24. Maybe, having seen him wrestle and noticing too the levels of concentration he had during his match, you can incorporate that into your wheedling him to do his homework. It's obvious he knows how much impact you CAN have on his wrestling by his grades but he still needs to realize that the focus he can put on the wrestling can also be put on the grades and homework and make a happy meeting ground there then. That he saw you present -well, that I think gives you just an extra edge with him too -on the good side, in that he's seeing yes, you do care, very much about his education -all of it!

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