There are moments as a teacher when your heart skips a beat and suddenly everything around you seems to move in slow motion. The unexpected. The inspirational. An epiphany. Hope. I experienced a moment like this today with Marqy Marq (nickname), my student who struggles with reading comprehension and writing fluency – my student who passes each grading period because he faces challenges ‘like a beast‘ and refuses to fail. He struggles through each assignment, but he does not quit. He earns passing grades in Language Arts because he meets the minimum requirements with the help of tutoring and after school homework programs. Success comes at a price. And he does not pay it easily.
There is a certain type of knowledge and understanding that comes only from experience. The insights gained from experience are usually deeper than those acquired through traditional learning methods. This is a strong statement coming from a book freak. More specifically, experience brings wisdom, and Marqy Marq demonstrates this with his recent poem.
– published with permission of the author.
Children enter our classrooms with insights and experiences that would shock us if we would give them the opportunity. As teachers, we should expect each child to inspire us. Expecting every child to amaze us each day is simply overly idealistic, but it is okay to be idealistic. Didn’t we get into teaching because we loved watching students succeed? It may not happen every day, but we should expect it to happen consistently. We should anticipate success. Our students need to feel that we expect them to succeed. All of them – Black, Hispanic, Indian, White, affluent, economically disadvantaged, Bilingual, English-only, angry, emotionally disturbed, struggling with ADHD, autistic, plagued by learning disabilities, talented and gifted, homeless, abused, socially awkward, extroverts, introverts, anxious, athletes, musicians, artists, gamers… every child. Planning with each child in mind means providing opportunities for each of them to succeed. Some successes will be greater than others, but all of them are important in creating an “I can do this!” climate in our classrooms.
Marqy Marq may not write eloquent essays or intriguing literary analysis pieces, but he certain can write poetry revealing the heart of a broken mother struggling to make the best decisions for her child. His poem acknowledges the maternal bond between mother and child, even when the mother fails to express is appropriately. Marqy Marq reminds his audience – children and young adults – that parents have problems that their kids know nothing about. In this piece, he encourages his readers to resist hate and realize that parents make difficult decisions in order to spare their children long-term pain and hardship. Marqy Marq is thirteen. He already knows how to forgive and how to look past actions to see underlying motives. He is wiser than most adults.