My heart just melted… by what a 7th grader said

I got this overwhelmingly warm feeling in my heart today while working with what I formerly called “Creatures of the Middle” ..or “little shits.”

I was assigned to work with 7th and 8th grade students in lab for Education 340 today at Wellington Middle School. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to working with middle schoolers, but something “awe-worthy” happened today.

In the 7th grade “Math Skills” class I worked with today, the students are placed in this elective class for 9 weeks based on a previous math assessment that determines they struggle with math and need the extra help.

As the teacher began instructing her 8 students, I surveyed the room, thinking of how these were the students I, myself, belittled growing up. I was an honors student all through middle school and in high school I took advanced courses. I guess I never really needed extra help like some students did, and I tended to not associate with the kids who struggled with subject matter. All of my friends were in the same boat as I was, and we all were too quick to judge any student that was in “Regular” math courses, or any regular courses for that matter.

I guess you could say I was scared to death of having to work with students who I never connected with when I was their age. Horrified, really..

We (my fellow CSU students) were asked to join a pair of students and help them with their math assignment for the day. Teaching math in itself was probably more nerve-racking than working with the students to be honest…I’m an English major, goddammit.

But as the time I spent with my two students, Sierra and Charles, continued on, I began to engage the students in conversation, and this is where my heart breaks…

I asked Charles if he, “enjoyed the class?” and he replied,

“Yeah, I do because I feel smart in this class. But in my other class I don’t feel smart at all.”

I truly was astonished at his honesty and openness he expressed to a mere stranger. And it made me think how important Ms. Binder (the math skills instructor) is to these kids. She makes them feel better about themselves, giving them the confidence they need to succeed in a subject they clearly struggle in.

Maybe this moment doesn’t seem as magical to you or whoever is reading this, but my heart turned into mush followed by a warm feeling as I had connected with Charles and seen a vulnerable side of this 7th grader…

ahhh…enough blog for now, I do believe. I would love to hear some of your experiences working with younger students if you don’t mind sharing 🙂

Perhaps I’ll tweet about it…hmmmm

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2 thoughts on “My heart just melted… by what a 7th grader said

  1. “Awwwwww” is right!

    This post just goes to show us that it’s not always about “being smart” (transmission style learning- regurgitating facts), but sometimes, and maybe even mostly, about feeling that your ideas are VALUED.

    Why do you think the student felt “smart” in this particular class? Is there anything the teacher did that you noticed to build an environment that honored students?

    Post more quotes from “little shits” – they are the best!

  2. fbleam says:

    I completely agree! To me it really is the little things that count, and when you hear a student say this it really makes you feel good.

    I have a story that I would like to share with you as well. I am doing Campus Corps this semester (which i HIGHLY recommend and will be blogging about later tonight!) but I was assigned to a mentee. The coolest thing about it is that they get to pick you, which I think is pretty awesome! We were out doing activities that they each get to pick and mine being a sixteen year old boy, picked football! It was so much fun! We all had a blast and it was even raining outside and extremely cold. My mentee literally does nothing I found out. He’s in two classes in high school in his junior year and likes to “chill” with his friends…that’s it. Or all that he would tell me so far. I asked him if he had fun playing football and he looked me square in the eye and said, “Actually, yes. None of my friends really do any of this kind of stuff so that’s why I’m not really involved.” Then, another kid stated, “This is never THIS much fun when I play with kids from my school!” I can’t explain to you how awesome that was for me to hear this. I mean when you have some kids that are court ordered to be there, you never know how it’s going to go.

    Again, I know this seems like such a small thing, but it literally made my night and made me realize that Campus Corps isn’t about being extravagant or anything like that, but really its about a sense of belonging. That’s all these kids really need. Thanks for sharing your awesome story! I love hearing them because it truly makes our profession worthwhile, even if we don’t see these little things every day 🙂

    ~Fairon

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