When Students Surprise You

The feeling you get when your students surprise you. Isn't it the awesomest?

Firstly, let me wish all of you reading this a Happy Valentines' Day. I'll be celebrating it alone in the jungle in my boxers with a glass of red wine & my own cooking. I guess it is apt that I share something romantic on a day when men around the globe make a desperate attempt at romance to make up for 364 days of neglect.

My students did something for me today which brought me to tears. And being the machismo man I am, I did my best to hide it & I suppose I hid it well. I think.

I really love it when my students surprise me. They may not do it intentionally but, honestly, in this profession, you'll see something every once in a while that surprises you & gives you hope for the human race. But, I'm not the kind of guy who is easily surprised, you know? A man's got to have standards.

Anyway, what did my students do? Did they give me a big expensive shiny present?
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'd probably have figured me out. I'm not the kind of guy who is impressed with material things. I prefer to store up treasures that rust nor mould nor thieves can steal away. But... If someone came along & decided to hand me the keys to a brand new Ducati... I'd appreciate you so very much. But not as much as if you did what my students did for me today. The best part is... they did it unintentionally & unknowingly. Oh, I love them so!

Today, I gave the weakest Form 3 class their PBS Band 1 assessment. A kid in the city could probably ace the paper with both eyes poked out & 9 fingers chopped off. It's Band 1. But for students who are in the weakest class in a pedalaman school you can't find on Google maps in the middle of a jungle, it can be pretty challenging. Esp for those amongst them who have difficulty recognising letters, reading & writing.

I didn't expect them to do what they did during that class. I had a lump in my throat during most of the lesson! They knew that it was an assessment so they sat extra straight that day & didn't make a sound. They were sitting right next to each other but they didn't even try to cheat. Even the naughty boys behaved better than angels that day. And... this was only the warm up.

Most of the students in this class perform way below par to qualify to even be in Form 3. There were two boys & a girl in the class who were the weakest of all. They wouldn't even be able to spell 'Wednesday' or 'February' or 'hippopotamus' if you tested them. You would expect weak students like these to shrug their shoulders & go meh. But these kids didn't. Oh no. They gave it their best & it was obvious.

You could see the intensity on their faces. Everyone was really digging deep into their brains for words & letters to complete the tasks on the assessment. They were totally quiet & totally focused & there was a pureness in the energy of that class that day. Pure productive effort. A very positive & powerful spirit.

2 of the 3 weakest students managed with all their might to fill in all the blanks. And they did. Looking at them as they painstakingly wrote their answers, their spelling may be slightly off but the meaning comes through & they'll achieve the Band. I'm so proud & moved at the same time. This must be what it's like to be a proud parent. Serotonin surge. This is still not the best part.

The best part is the weakest of them all tried so hard during the whole 80 minute lesson, you could see his face turn red. He was staring intently at his paper during the whole time. He didn't even want to hand in his paper at the end. And the look on his face after I took away his paper was not of relief nor I-couldn't-do-it-but-I-don't-care. It was of pure exhaustion from mental exertion. He looked really tried & really down.

When I looked at his paper, I saw that he only managed one word... 'I'. Next to the letter were patches of rub marks. It was obvious that he wrote, rubbed, wrote, rubbed, again & again & again & again. He probably did that for the whole 80 minutes. Even though he didn't write enough to achieve the Band, he did more than enough to earn my respect.

I'm not sure if I wrote this well enough to allow you to feel how I feel about them right now. How they are able to reach into the deepest parts of my soul & how much they motivate me to work for them. But I just want you to know that you should not be discouraged. A surprise like this is waiting for you just around the corner!

Thank you.

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