Tuesday, November 28, 2006

and the light goes on in their eyes

Today was a day I'll remember for a long time.

Over the weekend, I puzzled for hours about how to introduce the concept of multiplication to a bunch of 6 and 7 year old children - some of whom still can't write their numbers the right way. The other Year 2 teacher, N, had a lot of trouble getting her class to understand the relationship between groups of objects, adding, and multiplying.

Yesterday's lesson went far better than expected, with about half of the kids in my class 'getting it'. Feeling a little more confidence (both myself and the class), we started exploring multiplying a little more today. I had different tasks for the different ability groups in my class, ranging from counting by 2s and creating groups using coins to creating multiplication problems to challenge fellow group members. The students all seemed to really enjoy what they were doing and there was the sound of animated conversation echoing from our classroom down the hallway.

During the last 10 minutes of the lesson, I stopped them all and started asking random multiplication questions to see which students really did understand how it worked. They could all multiply by 1, even when I said "what is 1 times a million?!"

As I was asking them questions, every student in the class was as excited as if they were in a game show - shouting out answers and putting their hand up to answer questions.

One little boy, C, who gets in trouble daily and can barely read and write (every class has a kid that other teachers say "Oh, you're got ____ in your class." in this knowing tone - he is that kid in our class), kept putting up his hand to give answers. This is very out of character for him, and he usually just shouts out "TEN!" to every question, so when it came time to answer "2 x 5" and he stuck his hand up, I thought "I'll just pick him so he'll get the answer and make him feel good".

I had no idea that he was going to sit there looking at his hands thoughtfully and counting something under his breath as the rest of the class waited impatiently (they expected him to get it wrong).

"hmm...mumblemumble. 9? no wait... 10!"

Every person in the room (students included) stared in shock. It was obvious to all of us that he had worked it out properly in his head, rather than just guessing.

R, one of my other 'difficult' students shouted out: Miss! I think C should get a team point for that! Then the class erupted into applause for little C, who not being used to that kind of treatment, puffed up his little chest and grinned the proudest smile I've ever seen from him.

This child, who needs constant reminders just to sit properly in his chair, participated just as well as the rest of the class. He was trying so hard, which I know takes more effort than from the other students.

It made my entire day.

Somebody must have told the Head Teacher about it, because at the end of the day he came into the room with a laminated piece of paper that read:


You were truly a Star Student today! Well Done!
We are all very proud of you.

Signed : Head Teacher"

I can't wait to see this kid's face when he sees it tomorrow.

And this my BloggerFriends, is why I'm a teacher. Moments like that. When your hours of commuting, working 2 hours at the end of each school day to make sure things are ready for the next day, dealing with irritated parents, whiny children, and dozens of other daily tasks that go along with standing in front of 30 little people every day, hoping they learn SOMETHING, finally pays off and you see the light go on in their eyes. Because they've learned something. And you are the one that helped them get there.

I hope I never forget that even the most difficult child can be reached - it just sometimes takes a little bit more time...


  • At 4:58 PM, Blogger Suldog said…

    That is so cool, both for the kids getting it via your teaching and for you being able to do something you so enjoy! Congratulations on both counts!

  • At 6:33 PM, Blogger Thomas said…

    Hi from Seattle.

  • At 8:37 PM, Blogger Laura Coubrough said…

    That's fantastic Mel!
    I knew you'd be a good teacher.
    It's probably because you're so patient and creative.
    I have to say I'm a little jealous.
    I wish I felt that way about my job a little more.

  • At 8:55 PM, Blogger Beechball * said…

    Wow... that story honestly made me wanna cry it was so sweet! I didn't realise till I finished reading that your story made ME have the happiest little grin on my face too... too friggin' sweet! I bet you see a major difference in that kid from this day forth! :) Congrats all around!

  • At 10:45 PM, Anonymous MOM said…

    What a warm fuzzy experience!!!! My suggestion is that you copy this blog entery and add it to your resume as it illustrates what an amazzzzing young woman and teacher you are. Hope you have many of these euphoric moments.
    LOve MOM


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