That One Student

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The first group of kids just left the building, and I wait patiently for the next group of second and third graders to enter. It’s a chance to think, a chance to reflect on what I’ve attempted to teach and how the kids reacted. I oftentimes wonder if anything that I say is transferred, if any of the students understand.

Maybe I could have worded that better.

This thought always races through my head, as I’m constantly looking for a better way to teach to reach more kids. I change my wording this time. Better?

I still see blank stares during the discussion of the actual science, but I always see their excitement when I do a demonstration. Perhaps I need to be more hands on, to have more instructive visual aids.

I grab different materials, try a different order, and ask new questions. Nothing seems to convey the science well enough. I still see wandering eyes and fumbling hands, but I keep going.

As I await the third group, some feelings of inadequacy take over. Am I a good teacher? Maybe I don’t know the concepts as well as I thought. Before I have a chance to mull it over, the gym doors open.

This round something changes. It’s not my wording or the demonstration. A single third grade girl changes my perspective. As she walks to my booth, her eyes scan the items. She seems very excited like the rest, but something about her is different.

As I begin my demonstration, I start to see the differences. Her eyes are attentive, and she’s excited—even during my explanations. She tries to answer every question, but only after giving it some thought rather than just blurting out something. And at the end of the five minutes as the air horn sounds, she stays to ask a question, a question that indicates her attentiveness. She obviously learned something, and she is inquisitive enough to allow that to impact her.

The Carnival closes. As I walk outside, I wonder if what I did was worth it. Did it truly impact any of the kids? I think of that girl. Maybe this is what being a teacher is all about—that one student with the drive to learn that inspires you to keep going, to teach to reach more.

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