Monday, January 31, 2011

To Praise or Not

I have Collin in two science classes this trimester. He's a "band member" in every stereotypical sense of the word. That's what he wants to do in life. While I do happen to believe that you might want to be sober for a good portion of that lifetime, far be it for me to squash his dreams. For the first half of the trimester, he was either asleep or copying work from the person next to him.

The last couple weeks, though, he has woke up. Turns out, he is a pretty bright kid. Who knew?

He's excited about his Astronomy Observation Notebook and thinks it's just awesome to be able to identify objects in the sky. He has been participating in class discussions. He has been helping other students when they get stuck. His grades have come way out of the failing range.

Every day, I want to say something to him in praise of his new effort. I want him to know how good it is to see him working to his potential.

But then I don't. I have this sneaking suspicion that bringing attention to his behavior might just bring about the end. He seems to be right on the fence, and I'm afraid of upsetting that delicate balance. The very few carefully chosen comments I have dared to make to him have resulted in this really strange look where I can see him closing up and looking around to see if anyone overheard. It's almost like he is angry at himself for doing well in class.

Why is it such a stigma for some kids to succeed?


Keri said...

I've run across your blog from the physics perspective and I'm really enjoying it. I'm a freshman teacher (i.e. in my first year) and I'm really running across this problem. I don't have an answer, just empathy. Keep up the good blog!

Mrs. Tenkely said...

Rejoicing that he has found something that sparks some life! I know the feeling, it is such a fine line between wanting to encourage and embarassing them back into the hole. How sad that success and passion isn't valued more in that age group. I'm not sure how to change almost has to be a whole-school culture shift.

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