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Happy Dance!

By Lindsay Morehouse, AmeriCorps Promise Fellow serving at Hopkins Community Education

I’ve been working one on one with a particular student for most of the year. When I started, he was shy and unmotivated. When I would ask him a question or challenge him to take more time with his work or to consider other options, he would put his head on the desk and give up. Another teacher once reported to me that they couldn’t get him to do anything ever, and that he was lazy. However, over the course of the year, I’ve been able to get him to come out of his shell (he has a great sense of humor and loves to talk about books that we’ve both read). I have seen such growth in this student. In fact, in April, he completely surprised me by volunteering to re-do an assignment because he thought he could improve it (even though he wouldn’t gain any points by redoing it–he wanted to do it for his own gratification).

Last week, this same student came to me and was clearly nervous about the reading MAP test. I talked with him, and told him to just take his time and think through the questions as if we were working on them together. He wasn’t so sure about this advice, and went off to take the test. At the end of the second day of testing, he bounded back in the room, clearly excited about something. I asked him how he had done, and he made a sheepish face and reported that he did ok. I pressed him and he told me his score. Not only had he reached the ‘exit’ score for the RTI program, he had surpassed the grade-level score by about 15 points (and had got one of the highest scores in the class).

The best part about it was how very proud of his achievement he was. The proctor for the test later told me that when he first found out his score, he danced. Even though he gave me a more bashful response, he was still clearly proud of his work. It is this pride in his work that is so amazing to see, especially to in comparison with how he approached school work, tests, and challenges l when I first started working with him. A few days later when he went to take the math MAP test, I asked him how he felt and he replied that he was nervous, but that based on the reading test, he now knows that will do alright if he takes his time and focuses on each question. Even more than seeing a great academic score from a student, it was inspiring and wonderful to see such self-confidence, motivation, and pride. He has made a complete change this year and I am so excited for him.

[From “Voices From the Field: Reflections from Minnesota Alliance With Youth’s AmeriCorps Promise Fellows.” Summer 2015.]

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