Friday, December 9, 2011

A Teaching Moment


I never blog about work.

I try to not mix work and my personal life on my blog, but sometimes there are just those moments that you can't NOT talk about.

This is one of those moments.

A little background about what I do...

I'm a teacher.

I teach at a very low-income, at risk middle school.

99.9% of my students are on a free lunch program.

I would say that there are several of my students that have one or both parents in jail.

Lets just say that these kids have it pretty rough.

So, along with the rough area that they live in...some of them have some pretty rough personalities. 

Not just rough...very tough.

They are used to yelling.

Fighting.

Drugs.

Guns.

Gangs.

All things I have never been used to or ever been around until teaching.

So when I teach---

I teach with something that some of them are not used to-

Compassion.

It was difficult for them to understand at first.

Some of them still don't know how to handle it.

But I refuse to yell at them.

I refuse to give up.


So...back to why I wrote this post...

I have a student that is just SO PRECIOUS.

He is in the 8th grade.

He has had a very tough childhood.

The majority of this school year, he has struggled with grades and has had very poor attendance.

He had what I would call an "I-don't-give-a-shit" attitude.

3 weeks ago, this student showed up to my class higher than high on drugs.

I could smell it on him.

He could barely function.

I had to turn him in.

It broke my heart. 

He was gone for a few days.

In my mind, I knew that when he came back to school, he would be BEYOND upset at me. What I did to him would make him so upset that he would never talk to me again.

I made peace with this

I knew I did the right thing by turning him in.

After a few days of being gone, the student showed back up.

I nervously gulped.

I was ready to face him.

I greeted him like I would any of my students.

I taught my lesson for the day.

I gave out the assignment.

He asked to speak with me in private.

I agreed.

We walked out into the hall (where there are cameras...I wasn't taking any chances)...

and he hugged me.

He HUGGED me.

I couldn't believe it.

He thanked me.

He apologized to me.




These past three weeks I have seen the BIGGEST change in this child.

He is trying. 

He is personable.

He is the first one to say "Good Morning".

He is the first one to ask me if I need help with anything.

I pray each and every day that this new outlook on school sticks.

I pray that what I did for him HELPED him.

I pray I made a difference.


I pray.










82 comments

tara said...

awww!!! i'm so glad you posted this, unicorn! i have no doubt that you are a compassionate and amazing teacher, because you are an amazing and compassionate person! lubz you!

Cait said...

omg michelle how amazing :) i remember hearing these stories when i first started student teaching and i was so inspired to go into the world and do the same thing! another reason why i love you and your way to leave marks on kids who need you! xo

Jess - PrettyPhysicist said...

What an amazing story! I am sure that you DID help him, and I'm sure he knew it. You're such an amazing teacher and those kids are lucky to have you!

Vicki said...

This made me cry .... I believe that every child has that one teacher that either makes them or breaks them as a student and forever changes the course of their life ... I truly believe that! Be proud of what you do because I think you just changed that boys life for the better :)

Dixie Bell Designs said...

Awww, that is such an amazing story! I think you did the right thing and are probably an amazing teacher.... you definitely reached him, and hopefully it sticks. I am a teacher, too... the area I teach is not what I'd consider "rough" but there are still a few kids with really sad stories and my heart breaks for them everyday. :(

Sarah said...

Oh, Michelle, you did make a difference! You are such a wonderful person, and I'm so glad these students have you as their teacher. This is the kind of teacher I hope to be in a few years when I start teaching. You have such an amazing heart. Keep changing lives!

Jess said...

Ahhh. I love this post!!! I taught the same population of students for two years and had the same situation happen. I had one student that just. didn't. like me. He hated change (since he's never had any stability in his life) and was rude and crude from day 1. Finally, one day, he asked me his grade and I told him that he was failing (because he refused to come to class and/or do work). He asked to meet with me to figure out how to change that and from that day forward, he was my best student. It was the weirdest thing, but I never gave into him. I wish you would write more about teaching!! I love hearing (and telling, obviously) stories like this!!

Enjoy your weekend!

Meg O. said...

I love this post! We sometimes have to do really difficult things as teachers but when it's the right thing, then it is always worth it. We had to kick our lead actress out of One-Act Play last year (and this girl was incredibly talented - could have won best actress at every level) because of a stupid decision she made on a field trip. At the end of the year she ended up thanking us because it was the "best kick in the pants" she got.

I know it's so hard to be teaching where you teach, and most days it's really frustrating. I know I have it really easy where I am, but teaching does have challenges.

I am so happy you did the right thing. People like you are inspiring to others. Posts like this keep me encouraged to be a positive influence and a compassionate teacher!!!

Savanah said...

I am so glad you posted this story. I am tearing up reading it because I saw you tearing up telling it to me. I know without a doubt you are an excellent, compassionate teacher and this student finally realizing you are! And, with me working with the same population as you it breaks my heart that there are kids living the way that they do. The kids are bad and give you hell, why do they act that way? The parents! It is great that you are the person at school that they can come and give a HUG too if they need it because their parents aren't doing it. I konw you're having a hard time at your school, but keep that smile :) The kids appreciate it even when they don't show it! Love you!

J and A said...

I am so glad you posted this. I had a similar experience but it didn't turn out as positive as yours but your story gives me hope. Great job, keep up teaching with compassion. That is exactly what they need.

KAH said...

That is a fantastic story. I'm so glad it had a happy ending :)

Maura said...

this made me tear up! You are doing amazing things for those kids and i know you are changing lives! so glad you posted this because i know how encouraging it's going to be to so many people. I am so proud to call you my friend!!

Lauren said...

it sounds like we teach at VERY similar schools. well done Michelle, you did the right thing and even our little middle school friends know that when they see it.

keep fighting the good fight :)

ashleigh said...

i absolutely love this;
this is what teaching is about!
and i thank you for writing this.
love you girly

Nikki said...

I used to think I wanted to be a teacher but I'm not sure I could change a life in such an amazing way. And I wouldn't want to be anything less. Obviously, you are doing something right! Hope you can remember this experience when you have the days that you think your work doesn't matter.

Kathryn said...

What a beautiful story. You did make a difference and you are still making a difference!!! Not only in his life but in all your student's lives.

I wish we had more teachers in the world with your attitude!!!

Sara said...

I used to teach and kids these days make me SO incredibly sad!! I'm so glad you were able to make a difference. That makes you feel like your teaching is worth it.

Heather said...

Wow, how sweet!

Christina L. said...

Tearing up. That is so amazing!!! He was probably so happy to finally have someone in this world that cared whether or not he was doing drugs, coming to school and being safe. So happy to hear of this success story! You are truly changing their lives.

Phil and Darby Hawley said...

Thank you for being such a light for these children! They need you!

Jesica said...

Aw, that moment right there is why people become teachers

ImarriedAtexan said...

What a wonderful morning read!!! I love this story!!! You are my hero!!!

Carolyn said...

OMG! This gave me the biggest goosebumps ever!!! :) Such a touching story!

Ruthie Hart said...

Michelle I am so glad you posted this! It is amazing to see the Lord working through you in changing those students lives. Prayer works and you are a true example of that!

Erin said...

Wow, Michelle, this is amazing! And this story is why I am so thankful our education system has teachers like you. I can only imagine the difference you will make in children's lives through your career. That is certainly something to be proud of :)

Jennifer said...

That is an amazing story! Knowing you have helped a student that needed it must make you feel like you are doing the job you were meant to do!

Rebekah said...

This just gave me chills. I'm so glad that there are people like you who DO make a difference in the lives of kids who really need it!

Christina said...

I'm totally crying! You are amazing and because of you, that boy may have a chance!

brynn said...

you put tears in my eyes!
so proud of you, michelle! i have such respect for teachers LIKE YOU.
thank you for sharing this :)

Brooke said...

What an amazing story! This is why teaching is worth all those hours, and such little pay. It is SO worth it. You are inspiring.

Kate said...

BEAUTIFUL. You are making a difference! Never forget that the good you are doing will make a huge impact on these precious kids. God bless you!

Cassie said...

kudos teach!
good for you!!

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

Michelle, you made a huge difference in his life. He sounds like an old soul and he knew that he needed a way out. They can't make the choice themselves! They're in middle school, where what their friends think is EVERYTHING. He has no choice.
I went to schools that were all at-risk schools. Although I look like a girl that went to a school in the suburbs, I can assure you, I am not. This is where my passion for urban schools comes in. I have seen it all, I have had friends killed, friends committed suicide over things like drugs and gangs. It's terrible. These kids NEED us. They need YOU!
I loved this post. So much. I understand why you don't blog about this stuff, but I hope to hear more from you! You sound like an amazing teacher :)

Rochelle said...

This post made me tear up. I student taught at a school with a lot of low income/high risk students and at first I was really nervous. I also had one student just like this and it was tough. He actually got kicked out and other students hated me for it till I started telling them that I was here for them, trying to help them and after that they started coming around and started to care.

Thanks for sharing this, teaching can be hard but we teach because we are passionate about it and want to help other students.Hopefully I will be teaching sometime next year.

Claire Kiefer said...

This is an incredible story. It's not often we get to see immediate change like that--I'm so impressed with your student's maturity. Only in 8th grade!! I teach a program for children of incarcerated parents at a public high school in San Francisco, so I know the population you're talking about. They're so brave and so fragile and can be so difficult at times. I'm glad yours have a loving teacher like you. :)

CALLIE said...

Crying!! My Mom and sister are both teachers so I have heard a million stories. This is awesome. I will be praying for him :)

Holly said...

You are an amazing person and I have no doubt you will change more students lives in the future!!!

Jennifer said...

that is an amazing achievement and hopefully he does stay on the right path. Compassion is a necessity and they're lucky to have a teacher like you who they can rely on.

KSK said...

That gives me goosebumps!!!
Good for you!

Brianne said...

This made me teary. I am so happy for you & this student.

JessB_Martin said...

Can I just say that I am so proud of you :) you are standing strong as a teacher and as a result so is that student. I you will continually be filled in your heart with compassion when dealing with these issues in your classroom. Continue pouring into the lives of your students and do not grow weary from doing good works! "Haven't I commanded you ?! Strength. Courage. Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step that you take" Joshua 1:9 :) you're awesome and inspire me

Miss Oakley @ Observations by Miss Oakley said...

Yay for compassion!!

Ana said...

This is an awesome story, Michelle. I admire you for being a teacher that cares! Because those are in extinction!

Shelley said...

I've been following you on twitter but just now stopped by your blog and im so glad i did! I'm now following here too :)

Allison said...

Thank God for teachers like you. These kids need you and it's a blessing that you were called into this school. You are a strong woman.

Hollie Ann said...

wow, michelle! i just turned in a big project for my youth and society class...we have been studying kids at risk vs at promise...you are definitely considering these kids as at promise.

you are a blessing!

Untypically Jia said...

Such an awesome story! There needs to be more teachers like you out there. You rock!

Jennifer said...

You are special. This is so touching and thank you for posting about it. Keep doing a wonderful job...you WILL make a difference.

Anna Catherine said...

Just said a prayer for both you and him. Thanks for doing what you do and loving those who need some love in their lives!

rkjalernpan said...

How uplifting. I thank teachers like you from the bottom of my heart.

Cori H. said...

That's so amazing! Teaching is such a rewarding career!

Kate @ Daffodils said...

wow, thanks so much for sharing. Truly inspiring. I hope that boy stays on the right path. It is a speecial calling for sure to teach students who struggle so much and I admire you for answering it!

Alyssa said...

That just gave me chills! What a rewarding job! I bet your heart breaks all the time!

Sarah-Life is what you make it said...

I love hearing stories like this. You seem like the teacher ( and just proved it now) who doesn't teach because of the two weeks at christmas, week in march, and 2 months off at summer. You teach to change lives! And you are changing them! Keep praying :)

Ashley said...

That's amazing. I loved reading this. You have no idea how much you reach students until something like this happens. I've had some amazing moments this year working at a low-income school, and hearing other stories like this really mean so much. Truly wonderful!

Ashlee Miller said...

WOW! What a great story. I hope he continues on the right path. You're an great teacher! Keep up the good work.

Emily said...

this is such an amazing story - totally pulled at my heart strings. You definitely helped change his life

Chrissy said...

That brings tears to my eyes. God bless you for being the kind of teacher who will make the hard decisions because its the best thing for that student. ♥

Major Gal said...

never give up on him. he needed boundaries and you turning him in showed him you really care - something he's probably never felt. we need more people like you xo

Sincerely Sara Cate said...

How amazing. Bless you for being such a positive influence in this world.

Kasey said...

I've been away from the computer all day but was checking into twitter on my phone and saw some tweets regarding your post so once I got home, I had to check it out. It seriously gave me goosebumps. What an amazing story. You are an amazing teacher. That boy will never forget you. :-)

Kristen Danielle said...

You are such an inspiration, Michelle.

Keep doing what you love. It DOES make a difference.


Xoxo,
Kristen

Lori said...

Wow. That's all I can say. Wow.

Amanda @ New Adventures said...

LOVE this! I do child protection so I get the kind of kids you work with. I love that you show them compassion and that you care about them! Sometimes thats all they need and all you can do.

Raquel said...

omg this is so sweet!! He sounds like such a sweetheart!

LeahJo said...

I applaud you for making a difference.
Many teachers would've let it go. My sister's HS teachers are that way, and I wish they wouldn't.
He realized how much you cared about him to turn him in, and have him snapped into reality.
It's so amazing to see the results when someone stands up and does something because they just care.
I stumbled upon your blog, and so glad I got to read this. Definitely touched my heart.

Blane181 said...

This really is awesome! I'm so glad you shared, it truly is worth sharing. I hope this change sticks!

{Louisiana.Bride} said...

I was at a school like that last year, and my mom is an administrator at a middle school like yours. Kids regularly get the cops called on them.

I love that he came back with a new attitude. Most would be angry. Hopefully this made a difference in the choices he makes outside school. I'll pray for your kids, I know how it can be when you want to change them, but can only work on their little hearts from 8 to 3:)

Jodi said...

WOW I got chills when I read this! AMAZING!!! Keep up the great work.

Aimee said...

That is amazing, and even though I have never been a teacher, I can only imagine the swell in your heart from this boy. What a wonderful moment.

Mere said...

Aw! I love this story. That is too sweet. You definitely did the right thing! Keep praying... it definitely helps!!! :)

Bri said...

Thanks for sharing this story, it brought tears to my eyes. I love the fact that you're changing these kids lives!

Wiz said...

Teachers like you are saints. I just dont know how you do it, but these kids are lucky to have you!

Nicole @ 27 & Counting said...

Thank you for sharing this story ... it's so important to remember as educators that compassion and love and patience are life-skills that most of our students do not know or comprehend because these acts are not modeled at home. Thank you for reminding me, also an educator, that I can make a difference. I DO make a difference. Thank you. Thank you.

Nicole @ 27 & Counting

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

Aw, hopefully things will continue positively!!

Lindsay said...

I meant to comment on this last week when I first read it, but I read it on my phone, so I decided to wait until I was on my computer. :-) This is such a fantastic story. I have so much respect for teachers. I know I could never do their job. I wish I had the compassion and patience to do what you do each day.

Emily w/Amazing Grapes said...

Aaawwww, wow that is so touching it gave me chills!
Sounds like you are the perfect teacher for these kids.
You have a great heart for teaching, not many do.
Emily at Amazing Grapes

Jesslyn Amber said...

You're amazing!!!! Thank you for sharing this story! This makes me look forward to teaching even more! :)

Ang said...

This is amazing! It's things like this that gave you the gut feeling of needing to turn him in and what keeps you going with the positive attitude! How wonderful.
I'm glad you shared this, it's heart-warming. Even more, it's good to know that there are some kids in bad situations who still want to do the right thing.

sarah said...

for real i just teared up reading this. making a difference in the life of even just one child is enough to make everything else you have to deal with worth it isnt it? i love being a teacher for this exact reason. that kid will forever remember you and how you changed his life.

Kiley said...

this is so amazing. the tears are comin'!

Rissy said...

This gave me goose bumps! what an amazing thing to have happen! How good does it feel to know you are doing something meaningful with your life?

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