Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 07 2011


From the beginning of  the school year, Toothpik and my Fake ESL kid have been this blog’s examples of kids who don’t do anythingposter-children for the apathy that makes me grind my teeth at night. They’re the ones who leave class with nothing more or less than when they came in–handouts left untouched on the desks, pencils either nonexistent or sitting right where I left them. Every day I nag and bother and cajole and remind them about consequences, Big Goals, the importance of education, how math is everywhere… to no avail. They act as if expecting them to think in eighth period, the last class of the day, is ludicrous. It’s incredible, shocking, how much work has not gotten done by these two young men. Your jaw would hit the floor.

I wrote a while ago about my Toothpik picking up his pencil, and around the same time, about finally getting a call from my Fake ESL kid’s brother (I call him that because he pretended for six weeks, successfully, that he didn’t speak a word of English and couldn’t understand the directions I was giving him or the problems on the page. I was shocked, not to mention humiliated, when I overheard him cutting up with some friends quite fluently under his breath one day in October). Baby steps.

Today, inexplicably, BOTH of them a) walked in 10 minutes late and b) just sat down and started working like they did so every day. They sat across the room from each other, both with pencils, and started working on filling out their tables. They both required a lot of help to complete it, but BOTH of them completed EVERY question on the worksheet.   WHAT?!?

I jotted down two quick “you’re awesome” post-its and made sure to deliver them before they ran out of steam. My Toothpik looks at me immediately and says “Call my house?” I called as soon as the dismissal bell was done ringing.

Then we took a 5-question quiz on the day’s material, and my Fake ESL kid (whose highest grade on anything thus far has been a 30%) got 3 out of the 5 questions right. Just like that!

I don’t know how this happened. I’ve been nagging and begging and calling home and pulling my hair out for 21 weeks of school, and BOOM. Something finally kicks in. I hope this is a new pattern, and not a once-and-done deal.

4 Responses

  1. G

    Relentless pursuit, my friend….it’s called relentless pursuit….:D

  2. Whoever holds out longest wins. That would be you. Luckily, when you win, they win. YAY YOU!

  3. FutureTeacher

    “Call my house?” Jeepers, almost made me cry! I’m a random, non-TFA reader, but I enjoy this blog SO much.

  4. adrilicious

    Amazing. Absolutely amazing. YOU’RE amazing – honestly, I’m impressed and inspired.

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“The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason you held on so long.” - John Maxwell


February 2011
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