Saturday, April 20, 2013

Why Do Some Capture Us?

As a substitute teacher, I see WAY too many kids in a week to remember them all.  In fact, if I am in a particular class for only a day or a half day, I often have trouble REALLY noticing quite a few of the students.  This is especially true of the quiet ones, the ones who seem to become part of their chairs.

One of my ongoing questions of myself is why do I notice some students and remember them and why do others completely fade from my mind?  If I come back to that same classroom weeks or months later, which kids will I remember and which ones will I have no idea about who they are or what they are like?

As one might suspect, the naughty ones are memorable.  And the class clowns.  The kids with special needs that make themselves known to the sub.  Those are easy reasons to remember particular students and they are all reasons why I remember some students.  But that isn't the entire cast of the ones I remember.  I am thinking back over the class I had just yesterday and trying to think of which kids I still can bring up faces or names for.  Interestingly, many of the kids do not fit any of those categories. 

Kids who speak to me personally are more memorable - even if it was just to ask to go to the nurse.  Kids who help me with some piece of equipment or some unique classroom procedure are also memorable.  Kids who display some part of their character are also memorable.  Sometimes even the especially quiet students are memorable. 

But, there is one category of kid that I remember especially well.  It is the kids who ask memorable questions.  And, yes, for me, the obviously gifted kids.  Weeks ago, I wrote about one young man I interacted with and felt especially drawn to.  During the literacy block, when the rest of the class was busy, this young man had told me all about a book he was working on - about American heroes.  For some reason, he and I really connected.  I was sorry when the day ended that I probably would not teach him again.  He is in a grade that I normally do not sub for, but I like his school, so I had taken the job for that class.

I was wrong that I would not teach him again.  I was in the grade one higher than his at that school a couple of days ago and he came into the math class that I was teaching.  This confirmed my assessment of his probable giftedness - kids are rarely accelerated into a math class higher than their own grade, unless they REALLY need it.  And, wonder of wonders, he was also delighted to see me - in a very quiet way.  He is not a loud, assertive kid.  But he did come up during a transition time and ask me if I remembered him.  I did.  Again, that mysterious and wonderful connection.  But too short. 

If I could teach kids like him every day, I would do it for free.  They are that intriguing to me. 

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