A 5th grade kid peeks his head into the space where my desk is as I'm walking out.
Kareem: Mrs. T?
Me: Yes, Kareem?
Kareem: Mrs. T?
Me: Yes, Kareem? Walking closer to the door.
Kareem: Mrs. T? Giggles and walks away.
I couldn't help but laugh to myself.
Something changed this year. It might have been our attitudes toward him and realizing that our school might be his only shot realizing, we get one chance with this kid and we need to make the most of it. Having taken the time to see him in a different way, I have realized he is a FUNNY kid. He might get a little angry sometimes and be challenging to teach, but he is funny and intelligent.
I picked him for my Shadow a Student Challenge. Today was the day I asked him if he'd be willing. In that moment I was a little nervous because there is a certain stigma attached to being a school administrator with students. You don't necessarily have as much street cred as you did when you were in a classroom teaching, well, at least I don't. I've been out of the classroom for a few years and these kids that are in my building right now, don't know what kind of teacher I was/still am. Anyhow, that's a story for another day.
While Kareem's class was waiting in the hallway for their special class to start, I nervously called him over to ask him THE question: Can I shadow you for a day? Nervously? Yes. Nervously. Kids are harsh. They can reject you and think nothing of it. I almost felt like I was asking someone to a high school dance. "What if he says, 'no?' I'll have to find someone else." I'd already gone down that path, so I was hoping that Kareem's answer would be "yes." I know that he's a kid that will keep me on my toes during my shadowing day and he'll be comfortable enough to talk to me.
So I walked with him a bit down the hall. We were trailed for a second by one of his friends whom I had to shoo away while I asked my important question. "Hey, Kareem! Would you be interested in letting me shadow you for a day? Mrs. B, Ms. G, Mr. M and I are all picking one student to shadow for a day so we can learn what it's like to be a kid in our school. You can say, 'no.' It's okay if you're not comfortable." Kareem smiles a bit devilishly and asks, "What does that mean though? Shadow me?" I give him a few more details, "It means I would do the work you do. Take notes. Hang with you all day. And I'd need you to talk to me and explain stuff that we're supposed to do. It would be Thursday" He flashes that big grin again and quickly answers, "yes," turns around and goes to proclaim to his friends, "Aye! She's gonna shadow me..."
Relieved, I continued walking. I really felt like I'd just asked someone out. It's tough thinking about being rejected by a 10 year-old. Some part of me wondered if that's how teachers, myself included, feel when students challenge them in front of others. Do we flashback to middle or high school when some friend turned us away or challenged us? Is that where the out of body experiences that some teachers have when they impulsively react to a student's behavior with a voice that is a few decibels higher than a whisper? I've heard stories about these teachers *wink wink.* Some part of me thinks so.