One of my new Intermediate Algebra students has really been struggling. What we’re currently studying (domain and range) isn’t coming quickly to her, and to top it off she’s had a bit of an attitude, which definitely doesn’t help. My strategy with students like this is typically to kill them with kindness. The last two days I’ve sat with her and worked nearly every problem with her, as patiently as I know how. (No, this is not ideal for the other kids, but I know it only takes one student to ruin the environment, so I’m practicing preventative medicine here and hoping for the best.)
In the whopping four days that I’ve known this girl I’ve seen her walk into class late talking to someone on her cell phone; I’ve seen her try to cheat off someone else; I’ve seen her back talk; I’ve seen her try to do everything except her work. And I just keep telling myself, “She’ll come around. She’ll come around.”
Well. You know what she said today? She said these three words: “I need help.”
I was so shocked I literally asked her to repeat herself.
Yes, it was very small. But she decided she cared enough to do some work and to do it correctly.
Admitting we need help is so very telling–no matter the age. It shows we trust the person we’re asking. It shows we’re willing to be vulnerable and humble. It shows we don’t know everything, and we’re ok admitting that.
So me and this girl–we still have a ways to go to get to where I want us to be. But we made a huge leap today, whether she realizes it or not.