There's something special about these English 9 and English 10 students: for most of their lives, they've been labeled (although I detest such terminology) as average. I have extremely high expectations for all students, regardless of the background they have. When they enter my English 9 class for the first time, they are told I believe they can achieve anything. They are told they can and will be successful. They are told I will be proud of them at some point during their journey through English 9 and 10.
Many of these students have never heard "I'm proud of you" from an adult: it's never too late to start.
So, as a reward for those English 9 and English 10 students, I offered them the option to be excused for part of Wednesday's classes to read at the elementary school, explaining to them what they had done to earn such a reward. Some of them were offered this experience because of attendence. Some for their work with others. Some for academics. Regardless of what the student had accomplished, he or she had impressed me, and I felt I owed them such reward.
If only I could have captured some of their faces when I told them how much they had impressed me. Pure, genuine happiness. A moment where, for an instant, they were rewarded for what they had accomplished...part of me wondering if this was the first time they'd ever been appreciated.
We read to the students at the elementary school today. They were asked to look nicer than usual, and all of my students stepped up, not weraing a ball gown or a tuxedo, of course, but wore a nice pair of jeans and a dressy top or button-up. One student even exclaimed: "See Mrs. H? I actually wore pants!" Referring toThe standard had to be set even in appearance: We are role models from the high school.
On our walk back to the high school, I heard things like "Kindergarteners ask some strange questions, but they're fun!" or "That was fun. I liked reading to them." Or others "They were all so good--so well-behaved."
A truly rewarding experience that had to be shared!