A few from Saint Paul, NOLA and Minneapolis…

Saint Paul…

We were discussing the ending to “Twelfth Night” in my class, particularly why the ending is so different from the traditional comedies of the time and the “happily ever after” endings we see so often.  A student asked why Shakespeare would make the ending different.  I encouraged the students to think about why he might do this.  One student responded, “Because Shakespeare is awesome!”  While I was hoping for a deep comment about representing true human nature or something that took significant thought after my probing question, I couldn’t exactly complain when the other students agreed and asked me to recommend more plays written by Shakespeare.  I didn’t have a choice but to recommend some of my favorites.

And New Orleans…

A young man in my fourth-period sixth grade math class stayed behind every class to help me clean the board, even though it meant being late for lunch. He was a star–by no means a mathematical wizard, but over six weeks I watched his confidence grow. Reserved, even resentful for the first two weeks, he became engaged when he found he could be successful. Math was only hard if you tried to do everything at once. Step by step, it was so much more manageable. So we did things step by step, and we played games so he forgot that he was reinforcing those critical fractions and decimals skills. At the end of the summer, I wrote each of my students a letter, and when the bell rang for the last time, four out of the five students dashed down the stairs to lunch, waving big goodbyes as they went. But not this young man. He sat in his chair and suddenly, without warning, broke into tears. His first summer with Breakthrough had had such a tremendous impact on him that as his last class ended–my math class–he cried at his desk. I was shocked that at my impact and the impact of this rigorous academic program on the life of this wonderful youngster.

And Minneapolis…

A student who had never done a research project before was investigating Andrew Jackson and the removal of the Cherokee from their traditional lands. She was reading a speech by Andrew Jackson and a document from a website about the Trail of Tears published by the Cherokee Nation. She called me over to tell me that her two sources said different things, so one of them must be wrong. Her question led to a very important discussion on source bias, and I could see in her eyes the moment when she put the pieces together and understood that information needs to be evaluated based on who it comes from. This one moment made me realize that I actually am having an impact on the educatios and lives of my students.

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