My new school is a charter and I know that means we get more than our fair share of good kids, but we are taking over a struggling school. That means all of their fifth graders were automatically accepted into the program, since it’s in the same building as their old school and replacing their previous option for sixth grade. While we do have kids from great backgrounds whose parents drive them every day to us, we also have kids who are used to being at the kind of school that’s getting closed down. As a staff, we’ve been keeping a very close eye on how they’re adjusting, since it’s a sharp transition to our academic and behavioral expectations.
One kid especially gets brought up at staff meetings. He already has more detentions than anyone else and tends to go into horrible sulks and refuse to do anything when he gets in trouble. He tests boundaries and needs space. Honestly, he’s My Kind Of Kid and I’m attached to him already. I was afraid a charter school would mean I didn’t get to work with students like him anymore, but he’s here and testing every bit of structure we have. We’re firm and consistent and his behavior and participation are already better just within the last two weeks. He’s started telling people about how he was on a really bad path before but now he wants to turn it around and make his life better. If he continues like this, we’re getting to watch a life be transformed in a way I’ve never seen before. My fingers are crossed really tightly for him.
Every Friday at All-School Meeting, we do “shout outs” so that people have a chance to publically give positive recognition to anyone they want. A bunch of teachers went first to show the kids what to do, and then they opened the floor to students. The first kid to stand up was this same boy, which got everyone’s full attention. He said he wanted to shout out the teachers at our school for how much they’ve been doing to help him get better. Then he turned toward me and said, “And especially Ms. Mathinaz, because she’s so patient with me and always gives me space to cool down and get back on track.”
It was such a touching moment from such a tough little kid – I almost started crying in front of the whole school. I didn’t even feel like I was doing anything out of the ordinary for him, much less that he had been noticing anything I did, and I would never have expected him to thank me in front of everyone. Two weeks in and look at this kid go! Am I getting my hopes up too early, or is this a school where I’ll actually be able to see real change happen?