Thursday, May 17, 2012

We've Come a Long Way

"Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown." -- Anonymous

Found via Pinterest on "Wake Up in France"

I knew this day was coming for the past few weeks and have had mixed feelings. Since the school year began, I have been working at the tutoring center Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I teach children of different ages, most of the time I instruct reading but also do some math. I really enjoy working with children in such an individual way and love being able to get to know them.

In January I started working with a middles school girl every Tuesday and Thursday. I didn't add up the hours tonight but I am sure that was about 75 +. We spent lots and lots of time together working on the craft of writing. She has lots of great ideas but struggles to get them on paper in an organized manner. She's smart, talented and extremely creative. With all these wonderful things to say about her, I have to tell you-- I didn't feel this way in the beginning. Sure, I knew my role was to help her improve her writing skills and to push her along. However, I didn't realize that we were in for a journey and that we would arrive at this point.

The first few hours I worked with this girl were some of the most frustrating moments I have had since student teaching. She had a poor attitude, did not want to be at the tutoring center, and frankly, could have cared less about me. She refused to do the assignments and preferred to read her dark humored descriptive anime comic books. Some nights she would muster up the "strength" to get one spelling page done and maybe scritch down a few words on the assigned essay. There were evenings she came in super depressed and would completely shut down. I found myself unsure of what to do and allowed her to throw her fits. I did everything I could to encourage her but I wasn't going to continue to fall into the power struggle. I felt defeated. I'm an elementary teacher! I had no idea what to do with a middle schooler! I had anxiety and low motivation to tutor during that time. Needless to say, the beginning hours were awful and I kept hoping she would not always be at my table.

The schedule did not change.

She kept being at my table and all I could do was learn to go with the flow. I learned to deal with her moods, which was much like dealing with typical Oregon weather. Unpredictable. So, I did the best I could in approaching her each evening.

Somewhere in the middle of all this she decided I wasn't so bad and maybe..... just mayyyyyybe.... tutoring wasn't so bad either. I have no idea when the shift of attitude occurred but it took a big weight off my shoulders.

Once she started being an active participant, we accomplished so much together. We created a healthy relationship and a routine. As soon as she arrived she knew she had to complete a spelling page and then we would work on writing an essay. She learned that I truly cared about her and believed in her. Oh, I was passionate about seeing her succeed! I learned how to communicate with her. I learned how to sincerely compliment her so she felt valued and respected. She wasn't invisible to me. 

One of my favorite parts of seeing her grow was her realization that she could be anything she wanted. She is a gifted writer and has many many interesting stories. I truly think she could be a book author someday, if that's what she desires. It's humbling to have been a part of this process; all of the ups and downs. I saw her potential and wanted her to see it too.
This was my last Tues/Thurs night schedule because of a conflict with my summer courses, which starts next week. I broke the news to middle school girl (as Shannan would say -- homegirl) and she responded with disappointment and proceeded to tell me this, "...I like you."

I told her I liked her too.

And "We've come a long way...."

Oh yes, we have. I do hope our paths cross again soon.

Thank you girl, you have made me infinitely richer than a millionaire for that compliment. That means more to me than you can possibly know.

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