What Student Inspired You to Change?

During my 11 years as an educator, I dont know if there is one single moment that I can look back on and say, That didnt change my thoughts or views.  I am always reevaluating how students actions change my perspective.  Early in my career, I was introduced to the most creative and inspiring bunch of kindergartners.  Their excitement about learning was unparalleled to anything I could have imagined. My thoughts about my students were simple. I didnt want anything to become a distraction or keep them from achieving what I thought were attainable goals.
There was one student that I recall very well.  She was very small, timid and frail, but very smart and highly motivated!  I always relied on her ability to answer a question correctly or submit her work without errors.  Day after day, I would make her the example, suggesting to the other students that they should pattern their work and temperament after hers. After months of consistency, she began to show inconsistency in her work and although it was right, she didnt bring the same level of tenacity that she had shown in the past.  This didnt trouble me, I just figured that she had reached her peak and because her work was still on point, I didnt ask questions.  However I should have. 

One day her grandmother came in and explained that many things had recently changed in my students life!  The most important was her living situation and her relationship with her mother.  I was troubled, but continued to treat her the same, not expecting any less.  I stepped up my compassion, but didnt reduce my expectations.  I understood the changes, but didnt want my lowered expectations to be the reason that she stopped trying.  The last day of school, her last day of kindergarten, my students grandmother came to speak to me and my para.  She shared with us that my students mother had taken her life that weekend and it was really hard on the family.  She also shared that this attempt was not the first and the changes that I had seen in my student were the result of those failed attempts.  I could not hold back my tears, but realized that in that moment, my tears were the only thing that I thought I could offer the grandmother, along with condolences.  However, she wanted to thank me for my consistency because she felt that our classroom and the expectations were the only things that didnt change for her granddaughter.  This story and student inspired my change.  I realized that in her darkest moment, my student knew the one thing she had was consistency in our relationship.  This made me realize that the individual relationships we have with our students are so special that many times they are unmatched.  The internal battles that students have become their story, but by lowering the expectations placed on them, you also change the outcome.  Every student teacher interaction that Ive had hasnt been this powerful, but in each of my students, I try to find a source of strength and pray that this strength inspires me to change as I teach! 

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