He is 17. A total of 8 credits. His attendance, spotty at best. His troubles, plenty.
Yet, he’s here. He is here and ready to learn. Today.
He tells me that a night ago, as he was getting ready to go to sleep, “I had an epiphany. I just realized out of the blue that it’s up to me. I mean, no one else will get me to where I want to be, but me.”
I ask, “Hmm, so where is it you want to be?”
“I don’t know, probably the military. But more importantly, I just had an epiphany that all the things you’ve been telling me about owning my learning and it being my education, with the emphasis on my decisions, are right.”
“So, what now?”
“Well, I got get as many credits as I can.”
“What’s the first step to getting the credits?”
“Probably, showing up. That’s my biggest challenge, after that, the work, but first showing up.”
I smile. He smiles. And then he grabs the netbook from my desk and proceeds to work steady, even while the rest of the class is quite distractible. He works uninterrupted until I ask to see what he’s got so far. He shows me … progress.
Now, if this is where the story were to end, it would be great. Simple motivation and a reminder to keep doing what I’m doing. Connect with kids, continue to remind them that they have power to direct their learning and rely on the fact that eventually the message will sink in and when it does, I’ll be there to help them.
But it doesn’t stop there.
He’s human. Not a case study, just like his learning it doesn’t come to a neat package. It’s going to require a constant re-evaluation and reflection on where he is and what he needs.
But starting from an epiphany is fine with me.
****Author’s Note: Although the gist of this reflection and the conversation is true and accurate, I have changed some of the details and timing to protect the identity of the student.
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