|A master at work|
The first student is a young man that I haven't taught since grade 9 (he is currently in grade 11). During his English 9 days he was one of my most frustrating students when it came to effort and work completion. While we had a good personal relationship, he would often refuse to complete written work and he absolutely loathed reading. There were many one-on-one talks, then eventual trips to the lunch hour homework room and finally meetings with his parents and admin as well as suspensions (for all of his courses not just English). I do remember his mom telling me about his love of outdoor activities including mountain biking, hunting, and fishing. At school however, he simply seemed to suffer through most of his courses.
|Catch #2 (before being released)|
|The now crowded dock|
Perhaps those were not accurate observations. Perhaps I was simply observing the students in contexts that played to their individual strengths, and when it came to confidence, skill, and tenacity they were actually both fairly equal. We all like to consider ourselves determined in the face of adversity, but how many of us put ourselves through situations day after day where we are unsuccessful? As an English teacher I observed each student over and over again in situations where one was constantly being rewarded and one was constantly being punished. What if we reversed what we valued in school? What if school was seven blocks of fishing a day and one block of an "academic" subject? Which student would have straight As and which student might be at-risk of not graduating?
Overall it was a wonderful class because we were able to observe the first student in an environment where he excelled, and could earn the respect of his teachers and peers. No matter what the context, it is always a pleasure to watch someone who is passionate about what they are doing. I was struck by how drastically different that 45 minutes at the lake was to what he faces every day in our school where class after class is a frustration. Just today at lunch I heard his name called (again) over the announcements for not attending homework club. It is actually amazing that he has hung in for this long. I wonder how student number two would respond if he was summoned to homework club at lunch and found a rod and reel waiting for him...