I teach 7th and 8th grade French. It’s French 1, but split over 2 years. Which is amazing when you LOVE your kiddos, but can be challenging if there is a student you don’t quite click with.
Last year one of my students, who we’ll name Stevie, started off the very first day being VERY upset about being in French. Stevie wanted to be in Spanish, because he felt it would be easy to get an A since he comes from a Spanish-speaking family. He is also autistic, which for him means that there is ZERO filter on what he shares with the class. Needless to say, this made the first few weeks of our first year together difficult!
As the year went on, things did not seem to get any better. Stevie never wanted to speak, work with others, write anything, etc. So by the time the final exam came around he was anxious about how he would perform, and honestly, so was I! He ended up scoring a 65… praise the world language Gods! This meant he got to move forwards… which made me nervous, anxious, frustrated, and worried for the coming year.
So, I just completely ignored the situation and did the same thing over again expecting a different result… SAID NO (caring) TEACHER EVER!
Over this summer I chose to completely change how I taught. I needed to reach more of my kids, faster and better. Enter Comprehensible Input (a.k.a. MAGIC, and thank you Martina Bex for being a phenomenal leader in CI methods!). Within the first week of this school year Stevie was volunteering to be an actor for our TPRS stories. This is the same kid who would cry when he would be called on the previous year.
My relationship with Stevie has improved this year to the point that for this year’s ugly sweater competition he put my picture on his chest, surrounded it with christmas lights lit by battery pack, and begged me to cheer for him to win! Which I did, and he won by a HUGE margin!
So, I’ve learned my lessons, yes, plural!
- Be reflective. Like, really reflective. Don’t be the teacher who knows something isn’t working and chooses to do the same thing over again expecting a different result… we call that insanity! Do the right thing!
- Keep an open mind. You might never know when or why that switch flips for one of your kids, but always believe it can happen!
My Stevie has taught me far more than most of my other students. It was a challenging situation, and we initially had a challenging relationship. However, through challenge comes growth; through growth comes understanding; through understanding comes great relationships, and all teachers know the value of great relationships!