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Kids DO Want to Learn!

June 13, 2011

Jack* was born in the US and moved to Argentina when he was 5 years old. He is now in 4th grade and I had the honor of tutoring him for a couple of months. Although he has lived here for many years, he never felt Argentina was his home. He is an exceptional boy who is crazy about video games, computers and movies. I was amazed the first time I met him. He’s such a sweet and funny boy! I really enjoyed each and all of our lessons together.

Jack was having trouble at school. He was labeled as an unmotivated boy who energetically refused to work and his performance on his English lessons wasn’t exactly the best. I found this particularly odd, because he speaks English so fluently. What’s more, his teacher told his mother that his writing was really incoherent and messy. She even suggested he should undergo psychological treatment.

On our first meeting, Jack did really well. When he focused on tasks he even had little need for explanations! As soon as our class was over, Jack dashed off to play with his PS3 and I had a chat with his mom. She was really sad about the reports from school so we discussed possible tactics to engage him. Meanwhile, in the background, I could hear him playing and interacting with someone in the US! Boy was he motivated to play! It was at that exact moment that I decided not to do the regular school work with him anymore. Instead, I’d use online sites, videos, Skype and, of course, I’d start a blog for him. I thought blogging would be perfect for practicing and improving his writing skills.

Our second lesson was amazing. He so was engaged in learning! It seemed like there was a totally different boy sitting next to me. I could tell how he savored each and every minute of our class. When our lesson finished, he looked at me and said: “Can you stay a bit longer?” I couldn’t believe my ears! He even asked me if we could have two lessons instead of one the following week!

He was thrilled when I told him he’d be blogging and sharing his stories with the world! Needless to say, when the lesson came, he wanted to blog right away! Jack worked really hard and with great enthusiasm on each of his posts. He loved reading the comments he received. It was wonderful to see how all those comments kept inspiring him to share more and more about himself.

Last week, Jack moved back to the US. As we were saying goodbye, he hugged me and said: “Can I keep blogging, Greta?”  I was speechless. He even promised “his blogging buddies” he would get back to them as soon as his family settled in their new home.

Blogging and tech tools have really helped Jack connect with learning. His attitude has changed and so has his performance at school. Jack loves to learn. Jack loves learning English. Jack is a boy who lives in 2011 and his reality is the internet, video gaming, web 2.0 tools and iPods. He’s also an expert iPad user and has even taught me some great applications!

Kids keep proving to me that they DO want to learn when they find learning meaningful. We should encourage our students to pursue their passions; this will empower kids to learn. Unless we do something about it, our classrooms will be packed with demotivated children. We can make a difference: it’s up to us educators to foster the love for learning in our students to really help them flourish.

* not his real name.

Jack's 1st Post

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2011 2:49 am

    A nice inspirational story of jack for those thing who want to learn I love reading this kind of stuff. Your blog is one of a kind, i love the way you organize the topics.

    • June 14, 2011 9:44 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words! Glad you liked the post!

  2. June 14, 2011 10:07 am

    This child was so lucky to have encountered a teacher sensitive to his needs and open enough to believe that there is more than one way to do things!
    An inspiring post – thank you for sharing!

    • June 14, 2011 11:38 am

      Wow! Thanks so much Naomi! Glad you enjoyed the post. =)

  3. June 14, 2011 12:10 pm

    Greta, you rock. What a wonderful story about meeting kids where they are. Definitely giving me some ideas for next year. I know kids like Jack are what keep you going. No doubt teachers like you are what keeps him going, too.

    • June 14, 2011 9:45 pm

      Hey Matt! THANKS so much for your words! Glad I gave you ideas for next year. Can’t wait to hear about them. Thanks again!

  4. June 14, 2011 4:40 pm

    Hi Greta!

    Was I ever right when I said the anagram of your name is “Great”! How wonderful of you to see his potentials and what he really liked, and adapt to his learning style.

    Congratulations both to you and your student on his amazing progress and willingness to learn!

    Kindest regards,
    Vicky

    • June 14, 2011 9:48 pm

      Aww Vicky! Thanks, thanks & thanks! You’re support means a lot to me! You’re the best!

  5. June 14, 2011 4:45 pm

    Hi Greta,

    So great to have you back blogging and what a fantastic post to return with. :)

    This highlights something important about our job – it is not the content and how well it is taught/learned that makes the difference; it’s the approach taken and the relationship between learner and teacher that really count.

    I’ve tuaght quite a few children over the years who have lived for some time in a foriegn country or have an English-speaking parent and it’s usually the same story – they are very fluent when speaking but struggle with writing. Motivating them to write more is the key and this boy is so lucky to have had you to help him. :)

    • June 14, 2011 9:53 pm

      Hi Dave! Thank YOU! I totally agree with what you said. Teaching is much more than teaching content. Connecting with our students is key. Thanks again for your kind words & support! It means a lot coming from you!

  6. June 14, 2011 11:09 pm

    Hi Greta,

    What a wonderful story. I think it shows how important it is for us teachers to look at our students as individuals, finding out what makes them tick. It´s about making learning opportunities real and relevant.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Valéria

    • June 15, 2011 10:32 am

      Thanks so much Valeria! Glad you liked the story! Totally agree with what you said! We should never forget to look at our students as individuals! Thanks again! :)

  7. June 16, 2011 12:03 pm

    Gret, you never seize to amaze me! Your students are lucky to have you. Miss you my friend!

    • June 16, 2011 12:28 pm

      Awww thanks so much Maru! It means a lot coming from you! Miss you too! Besote enormee!!

  8. June 16, 2011 12:39 pm

    Can’t remember the link to his blog, but I commented on, like you asked on twitter. Did he get it? Good to have you back, Gret!

    • June 16, 2011 9:01 pm

      Thanks David! He did get your comment! He read all the comments right before he left. I heard from his mom a few days ago and they haven’t found a place to live in yet.
      Thanks again for your support David! I’ve been really busy with school & tutoring. It feels good to be back! :)

  9. June 17, 2011 9:28 pm

    You continue to show that you truly are a wonderful teacher. It inspires me to try harder.

    • June 18, 2011 9:06 am

      Wow Tyson! Thanks so much for your words. They mean a lot coming from an incredible educator like you. I know you’ll have a wonderful school year! Let me know if I can be of any help! Thanks again! :)

  10. Jeanne permalink
    July 1, 2011 11:18 am

    I keep coming back to this story. It is so inspirational. Technology offers active engagement for meaningful learning. The key is matching the appropriate tool with student need and interest. You have done a wonderful job here! Your article has given me a template to increase writing skills through student blogging. It is not just struggling writers who can benefit from this type of high student interest, engaged learning. You have stressed the importance of the individual student and modeled that “thinking outside of the box” is an important characteristic of successful, committed teachers. Thank you!

    • July 9, 2011 5:32 pm

      Wow Jeanne! THANKS so much for your words! Blogging with students is really amazing. It has helped many of my students in so many ways. I agree with you it’s not just struggling students, ALL students can really benefit from this. Hope you start blogging with your students soon. You’ll love it! Thanks again! :)

  11. September 9, 2011 2:39 am

    Another inspirational story, Greta! :) It must be really nice to have motivated this young energetic boy. Haha. He’s one lucky kid to have you tutor him. ;) Well done! :D

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  1. Why do you teach? Need some inspiration? « slm508mbp

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