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I Believe in You

November 30, 2010

I was delighted to find out Mark* would be in my class this year. Even before I met him I knew he’d be one of my favorite students ever. Don’t ask me why, I just felt it. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. He is a really wonderful and intelligent boy who suffers from attention deficit disorder. It was very difficult for him to focus in class and he was quite reluctant to study. This was the reason Mark had a poor performance at school.
Although we connected right from the start, the first months were somehow difficult. He’d behave really badly. He was also quite untidy and he kept forgetting things. He didn’t have many friends, so he’d stay with me during break time. We’d just talk and play together. It made me feel so sad that I was really determined to help him. I promised myself I would never give up on him.
Although, I understood what he was going through I must admit it was hard not to get mad at him sometimes, but he’d always look at me and give me the biggest smile. One day he said to me: “I know I can be difficult at times, but I love you” and I realized something inside him was changing. I told him that I knew he could do better if he tried hard and that I’d be there to help him.  I was surprised when he said he couldn’t, but I insisted and said: “I believe in you, Mark“. Those words seemed to have made a great impact on him. After that day, his attitude slowly began to change. I had talked with his parents several times and decided to work together to help him. So, we kept sending notes to each other; we’d write about his attitude, his behavior and performance. His family really supported him no matter what.
As days went by, he started studying a bit harder and completing his assignments on time. What’s more, his neatness also began to improve. To my surprise, his handwriting got much clearer. His effort to get better was really inspiring. All his classmates began to support him too, some of them were even inspired to try harder thanks to him.
One day, I got to school and found Mark crying. He was absolutely devastated. He explained to me that he was having serious problems in his Spanish lessons, he thought he would be held back a year. I tried to comfort him and  stayed with him for a while. “I believe in you”, I said to him once again. That same day, was our last class before Children’s Day and I gave each of my students a chocolate bar and a card with the message “Believe in Yourself” written on it. After Mark read his card, he looked at me tearfully and said: “this is exactly what I needed to hear“… I was so moved by his words. What a fantastic child! I was sure he’d be surprising  us even more before the end of the school year.
Mark kept making great progress, he started to underline titles, he even started to use colors and he finally got his folder organized! What’s more, Mark’s performance on the rest of the tests was great. His parents kept supporting and encouraging him too. He has such a beautiful family!
Mark is really passionate about technology. Writing a blog was exactly what he needed. So much has blogging helped him! He’s one of the most active and creative bloggers in the class.  Mark also loves music. He has blogged about his favorite bands and songs quite a lot. He became one of our Singing Fridays stars. He has such an incredible voice. Everybody loves to listen to him sing. Blogging and singing in front of our class helped Mark discover how talented he was.
Let me tell you, things have changed so much for Mark… He has gained so much confidence and he has become a great student. What’s more he is a leader now. Everybody wants to play with him, they keep asking him for help and advice.
These last two months, his behavior has totally changed too. He is actually much quieter and focused in class. I rarely have to call for his attention now. So amazing is his change that he’ll be awarded a diploma for his effort and achievement.
Mark started believing in himself, he just needed someone to believe in him and showed him they cared. Working together with his parents has been essential during this process too. It was a team effort. When trying to help a kid, we need to get parents involved. This has made such a difference for Mark.
I have written my thoughts on the importance of connecting with students and  loving them no matter what. I know it can be difficult at times… but these kids need us, these kids are waiting for someone to believe in them and to show them we care. We must never give up on them, even if we don’t get to see any results right away.  I’m a teacher to reach out for all my students and help them realize that each of them is an exceptional kid. I’m a teacher to help my students believe in themselves and flourish. Thank you Mark, for reminding me this every day…

* not his real name

“Believe in Yourself”

31 Comments leave one →
  1. sabridv permalink
    November 30, 2010 11:50 am

    Wow Gret! I was really moved by this blog post. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience. These are the things that give sense to our profession, we are educators and not just English teachers. Your students are really lucky for having you. Never lose this attitude towards your students, all of them are really important and we should care for them all.

    • December 1, 2010 9:32 am

      Thanks Sabri! I agree with what you said: “we are educators and not just English teachers”. Thanks for your kind words. It means a lot!

  2. November 30, 2010 4:36 pm

    Hi Greta,

    This is a lovely post – it’s always great when we can help turn a student around, not just in terms of academic performance but in terms of behaviour and social interactions as well.

    Your words reminded me of a boy in one of my classes two years ago who caused a lot of problems in class – fighting with other kids, deliberately distracting and interrupting his classmates, not joining activities or completing written work… Luckily, his mother was concerned and keen for his attitude to change.

    Our original idea was for me to write a daily report in his notebook which he would show to his parents each day. It had a small effect but I could see this was becuase he felt forced into it rather than because he wanted to change. One day, when I handed him his notebook, I said “I’ve been really impressed with you this week – well done”. He gave me a puzzled look at first before saying “really?”. That kind of made me sad as it was obviously something he wasn’t used to hearing. “Yes,” I said. “Keep this up and we won’t have to do these reports anymore.”

    I then reduced them to weekly reports before dropping them all together, all the time backing up what I wrote with some praise or positive comments. As happened with Mark in your classes, he started to show more interest, interact with the other kids in a better way and take more care with his work. At the end of the year, he gave me a big hug and said he would miss me. I’ve kept track of him in his other classes since and his new teachers always say he is a nice normal kid – I smile but never tell them what he used to be like!

    • December 1, 2010 9:48 am

      Thanks for sharing your story with me Dave. You’re such a wonderful educator! You have really made a difference for that kid. It must have been powerfully inspiring to see his progress. It’s good you don’t tell others what he used to be like, he’s a different kid now🙂
      That’s what teaching is all about. It is way more than just teaching curriculum.
      Thanks so much for your kind words and support Dave! I really appreciate it!

  3. November 30, 2010 8:12 pm

    Wow Greta! What an incredible post! @TDSB_Chris was our previous Director of Education, and he really taught me a lot about believing in students. I saw the value of the words, “I believe in you too!” Anyone that is unsure of the power of these words really needs to read this post. Mark is lucky to have you as his teacher!

    Aviva

    • December 1, 2010 9:50 am

      Thank you Aviva! I really appreciate your comment! It’s so important to believe in our students. If we want to build a trusting relationship with them, we need to believe in them first! We need a trusting relationship if we want to touch their hearts and reach out for them! Thanks again. I’m so thankful for your support and encouragement!

  4. November 30, 2010 9:44 pm

    What an inspiring post. I have taught kids with ADHD before and know how frustrating it can be and how it consumes almost all of your energy but also know, like you, what can happen when you put in the time and show that you care. It would perhaps be easier to give up, not to bother or put any effort in but as your post shows, the benefits of persevering and making these kids really believe in themselves is so important. It is also a good reminder to all those educators, parents, and the general population who think that kids with ADD/ADHD are just badly behaved and there’s nothing more too it or that that’s the way they are and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    I hope others read your post and learn from it.

    Sarah

    • December 1, 2010 7:00 pm

      Thanks for your comment Sarah! I totally agree with you. Everyone should be aware that kids with ADD/ADHD aren’t just badly behaved kids. There’s so much that can be done. We can really reach out for them by building a trusting relationship, caring and connecting. I know it isn’t easy, but there’s no way I’d give up. Thanks again!

  5. December 1, 2010 12:04 am

    Spread that approach by believing in the kids…it truly helps transform them! You are energizing success by reflecting irrefutable greatness that kids exhibit everyday. I have seen it first hand and it is an amazing thing. Check out the Nurtured Heart Approach by Howard Glasser. difficultchild.com You sound like a natural.

    I really hope we drug kids less and less for this.

    Also, check out Sir Ken Robinson, his talks are enlightening.

    • December 2, 2010 10:16 am

      Wow, thanks so much for your words. I really appreciate it. I’ll check the site now! Nurtured Heart Approach sounds like a great book. Sir Ken Robinson is so inspiring! I loved that video, it’s one of my favorite talks! Thanks for all your recommendations and support!

  6. December 1, 2010 12:13 am

    Hi Greta,

    What a magnificent post! It´s just plain proof of a very simple and obvious thing in education: if we believe in our learners and they know this, they can change their own world and the way they perceive things. This is true for any learner, but it´s specifically the case with SEN learners, many who sometimes are fully aware of their difficulties and do try very hard, but sometimes trying hard enough is not enough unless you have a teacher, like yourself, who is willing to take time and listen!
    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • December 2, 2010 10:23 am

      Thank you for your kind words Valeria! I like what you said: “if we believe in our learners and they know this, they can change their own world and the way they perceive things” This is so powerful. We have the most wonderful job in the world. Thanks again!

  7. December 1, 2010 2:57 am

    What a beautiful blog post – you have captured what is truly at the heart of teaching… and in the hustle and bustle of report cards, interviews, concerts and the like – you’ve drawn us back into the reality of what truly matters at the end of the day. THANK YOU!

    I once read the following – – – reminds me of what you wrote… Thanks for the inspiration!
    An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living
    but it doesn’t teach them how to make a life.” -Author Anonymous

    Cheryl

    • December 2, 2010 10:31 am

      Thank YOU Cheryl! It means a lot. I loved the quote! I might borrow it if you don’t mind. I couldn’t agree more. Teaching is way more than teaching curriculum. Thanks again for your words.

  8. December 1, 2010 11:10 am

    Your post was heartwarming. As the Mom of a son who is ADHD, I was particularly struck by this sentence,” One day he said to me: “I know I can be difficult at times, but I love you” and I realized something inside him was changing.” My Jason needed teachers that he could feel this way about. Sadly there was only one in his entire school career. The others were uncaring or lacked understanding of his issue and I was constantly battling their push to medicate him, into a “zombie” state! Jason is gifted. Couple that with his ADHD as a little boy and it was a combination for challenge for all of his teachers. If only he would have had more supportive teachers who valued what he had to bring to the classroom, as you do. All the best to you!

    • December 2, 2010 10:39 am

      Wow Lisa… Thanks for sharing such a touching story with me. It can’t have been easy for you, but I’m sure this has helped you become the amazing educator you are. What you do for new teachers is really amazing and by mentoring and supporting them you’re helping so many Jasons and Marks… I really admire you. I learn so much from you every day! Thank you!

  9. December 1, 2010 8:12 pm

    Hi Greta, I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama! Reading your post made me so excited about becoming a teacher!! I think you are totally right about encouraging students to believe in themselves…there are so many kids that desperately need to hear that they are believed in by someone, and who better than their parents and teacher to tell them. This is a lesson that everyone needs to read, and even as an adult, we need to know that someone believes in us! I look forward to reading more of your posts! Keep up the great work : )
    Laura Scott

    • December 2, 2010 10:47 am

      Thanks so much Laura! I’m so glad my post has made you excited about becoming a teacher. Teaching is the most amazing job in the world. It isn’t easy, but it’s so moving and enriching.
      Believing in your students and making them aware of that is really important if you want to help him/her flourish. I’m sure you’ll be a wonderful teacher. Thanks again for your comment. It means a lot.🙂

  10. December 3, 2010 5:30 pm

    I have goosebumps reading that post. Everyone needs someone to believe in them. I’m so glad that you didn’t give up on him!

    • December 3, 2010 11:58 pm

      Thanks so much Kelly! I agree with you, everyone needs someone to believe in them… we all do. It makes such a difference! Thanks again!

  11. December 6, 2010 11:40 am

    Yes, I agree with Kelly.

  12. December 7, 2010 12:02 am

    Not much I can say that hasn’t already been said, but wow, great post! Often when I am teaching I think of the Jacques Barzun quote, “In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.” You seem to have gotten the proverbial fruit to blossom sooner🙂

    • December 7, 2010 10:10 am

      Wow Justin! Thanks so much for your comment! We should always keep trying, I know it can be frustrating not to see results right away, but it takes time to blossom… We, adults, need time to adapt , to change or understand things and so do kids! Loved the quote! I might borrow it! Thanks again!

  13. December 8, 2010 8:15 am

    Excellent read thankyou for the info

  14. December 16, 2010 11:28 pm

    Beautiful post. A wonderful reminder of how teachers can teach a student beyond that which is in the curriculum.

    • December 21, 2010 11:39 am

      Thanks so much Anaka! It means a lot. I agree teaching is so much more than teaching curriculum!

  15. January 2, 2011 10:50 am

    Beautiful! I’m an advocate for inclusion of all students. Your post speaks to my heart because I believe strongly that before students can learn they need to feel accepted and empowered. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • January 3, 2011 2:32 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment! I agree with you! Students need to feel we believe in them and we care for them first. Amazing things can happen! Have a wonderful 2011! Thanks again!

Trackbacks

  1. links for 2010-11-30 | MYAM's Blog
  2. My 2010 Most Memorable Teaching Moments « About a Teacher

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