Broken Toys Need Love More

Posted: 2011/03/05 in Classroom Teacher, Education, High School, Students

There was a girl who was so quiet and shy during freshman year of high school she couldn’t even ask the teacher a question. The girl next to her had to ask on her behalf.

It’s two years later and I just watched this same girl speaking live on camera to the whole school, reading the week’s announcements. It was not easy for her. She practiced with help and encouragement from classmates — the same classmates she couldn’t even speak to two years earlier.

I’m not sure just what role I had in this. I’ve been her teacher throughout high school. I had the joy of seeing this young person grow.

Alchemists tried to turn lead to gold. Teacher alchemy is when you start out with a broken, frightened child and end up with a confident hopeful young adult.

It doesn’t always work. Some of these children end up in jail or in cemeteries. And even if it sounds foolish, a teacher may then think “if only I did something different.” I know. I’ve been there. (More on that at a later date.)

Then there’s the joyous times when something works right.

At the end of my second year as an art teacher I was proud of the fact that I had good connections with the “problem” students, the ones with D’s and F’s that other teachers didn’t want. So I was surprised on the last day of school when a straight-A student approached to thank me and tell me that “before your class I always hated art.” Because of me this boy had registered for two summer classes — one in metal sculpture, the other in digital art.

Then there was a student who had a great deal of trouble speaking even a single word. He could not look anywhere but at the ground. I inquired. It turned out this boy started life with a grandmother in another country. Nobody spoke to him, no toys, no playmates, nobody interacted with him, his food was placed on the floor in a dog dish. When he was four he came to live with an uncle’s family in this country. And at fourteen he was still trying to learn to speak and interact with people.

The next year I saw him in the courtyard and he called out “Hello Mr. M.” I called back a greeting. And all I could think at that moment was: What’s the best Christmas present you ever got?

Because this felt better.

  1. leeleegirl4 says:

    That is an incredible and inspiring story about what sets great teachers apart from the rest. It is stories like this that remind me why I chose to go into education. I hope that I impact my students in the same way. That hope is what keeps me going back to the classroom, despite the difficulties involved.

  2. […] that I will leave my students similarly impacted. Without further ado, I direct your attention to Broken Toys Need Love More by Lucky […]

  3. […] that I will leave my students similarly impacted. Without further ado, I direct your attention to Broken Toys Need Love More by Lucky […]

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