As a teacher, I can be surprised by things my students say or do. This term, one of my students taught me something and I’d like to share it with you.
Daniel* entered my class, a student with large saucer eyes. He was a second termer or exiting student as we call them. Off to mainstream at the end of his time with me.
He should have been speaking more English. But he wasn’t. He either couldn’t or didn’t know how. I was perplexed: Did he have a learning issue or was he just incredibly shy? I referred him as ‘being at risk of not making progress’ to the Student Welfare Co-ordinator. She just followed up with home routines, made sure he was going to bed on time.
When reading with me, Daniel would seek reassurance after almost every word. Maybe he was scared to make mistakes? What had happened? Why was he so nervous? His volume would drop and I would remind him to ‘Read with a big voice’.
But when he read with his Reading Buddy, he would shine and the words would come out clearly and confidently. I would sneak past on my way round the room and marvel at the difference.
Daniel was paired up with his Reading Buddy to perform a Jazz Chant for the class. I was hoping I hadn’t set him up to fail. I need not have worried. He rose to the occasion and did well because he had such a supportive partner. The other students recognized this as a huge achievement for him.
I know his Reading Buddy and partner did not like working with him. She told me in a survey about reading. However, I don’t think she realized what a gift she gave him in her steadiness and modeling of language.
I learnt from Daniel to be persistent – to not give up. I also realized how powerful co-operative learning can be when students support each other.
And now Daniel talks.
*Not his real name.
What has a student/patient/or client taught you recently? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.