What Daniel Taught Me

Today a teachable moment appeared. As often happens if I am honest, the teachable moment was for me, not from me.

This afternoon  I met with a young man named Daniel. Daniel had great intentions but little success in getting work done for my class. I scolded him, assigned him to a help session, and finally threatened him with detention in order to get him to meet with me to get our current project under control.

So today he showed. I met him warily. I like Daniel. He is an energetic student, bubbly and social. He is obviously bright but lacks some of the organizational skills that separate the successful from the less successful. I also suspected that while Daniel had great ideas, getting them into written form was difficult for him. Today’s task was to use GoogleDocs to write a script for a public service announcement, so I presumed I knew what kept Daniel from success. Either writing was difficult for him, or the project was gone from his thinking zone as soon as tech class was over. I expected a lot of “I don’t knows” today.

So, to start off our help session, I began by asking Daniel how he envisioned his PSA. I fully expected that he had no clue. WRONG! As I shut up and listened, Daniel described a scenario that incorporated facts, drama, and an organizational level of thinking far beyond what I had expected. We set to writing in earnest. Daniel dictated what he wanted each character to say- I began to type into this collaborative document we had set up. Very quickly he took over- writing scene notes and dialog with little prompting from me. I was quickly just a tool to be used as he needed a suggestion of how to move forward.

Daniel taught me a very important lesson – that I should not presume to know intutitively what blocks a student’s success. I still don’t know why he wasn’t able to get his work done on time. What I do know is that he  spent a LOT of time thinking about it. The forty-five minutes I spent with him today showed me that I was quick to judge, and that I need to continue to touch base INDIVIDUALLY with all of my students who struggle while in class.

I hope every year brings me a “Daniel.”

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2 responses to “What Daniel Taught Me

  1. Don’t you just love those “teachable moments” when you LEARN so much! It is always a great feeling when you figure out how to help a struggling student, even when you aren’t really sure what is going on. I am glad you had that experience with Daniel. Sometimes we all need more of those . . .

  2. Now this is a reminder that we can all use! So often we are ready to jump all over kids and presume to know exactly how to fix the problem at hand. Most times I find that students just need a completely quiet dedicated time when they aren’t distracted by classmates. I love it when students amaze me and teach me something new!

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