The first student was a girl who is very attentive and curious and is constantly asking things of me. “I have a question” is probably the most frequent sentence starter she uses. These questions are deep and demonstrate that she is paying attention enough to know where she has a gap in knowledge. Sometimes they are silly and joking but more often than not they help her and the members of her table. Today she was finalizing the last few sections of her project and asked for a few specific pieces of assistance. It was pleasure to work with her as I knew we were both benefiting from the interaction.
The second was a boy who has been challenging me to develop my skill in passivity in the face of aggression. He often requires prompting to get started on his work and almost always refuses to accept any method of instruction other than direct teaching. He and I have gotten into a variety of discussions concerning his lateness and it has come to a point where he has actually begun to ignore me inside and outside of class. Some other students have noticed and wondered out loud to him, “Why are you being mean? Brian is just trying to help you.” He was working on his project with other teachers in the room because he had very little to show for himself. When I was consulted on the project by one of teachers, we discovered that he had not actually followed the directions and was writing a small lab report about a different investigation than he should have been. I attempted to offer assistance and he refused to acknowledge me.
It is so interesting to me how these relationships develop. Something in the life of the girl and the moment we began interacting caused us to continue to work well together. In contrast, the boy challenges me often this year and I have trouble understanding what his goal is in these situations. It has been difficult for me to treat them both equitably as the enjoyment I feel interacting with the girl causes me to gravitate towards her when most likely the boy needs more of my expertise to learn. This is one among many of the internal battles I face that has some kind of external outcome. I hope to learn from these experiences and gain more understanding of where my students come from so I can better teach them in years to come.