I love kids. It’s Friday night and we just finished our dinner party. It was all adults, but one of my fiance’s friends brought two high school students he has been family friends with for more than a decade. As an eduholic, I immediately grilled the kids at the dinner table about which school they attend in DC, who their teachers are and how they are doing in class. Some lighthearted conversationalist I am.
But because it’s Friday night and it’s a dinner party at my house, behavior and learning weren’t the primary lens I saw them through. I got to know one of the kids first through the lens of being the guest who was the first to dig into his vegetables, scored major points by helping himself to seconds and helped me make tea after dinner. It wasn’t until later in the evening that I learned he struggles in school, has been suspended for more than a month so far this school year, and admitted to instigating behavior issues earlier in the year for his English teacher who happens to be in Teach For America.
After dinner, “Albert” and I talked about education in DC and El Salvador, as well as what all kids deserve from public education in America. I told him I am available to help him with anything in school he needs. Despite being a self-professed reluctant and angry student, he instantly brightened at the offer. Then, he hung his head and admitted that reading is really hard for him and that it takes him three times longer to write anything because while he wants to express himself with the really big words that he knows, he ends up spending so much time fishing for the simpler words he can spell. (However, he did say that his current TFA English teacher has taught him more than he has learned in the past four years--- go Ms. K!). Then he asked me to teach him to read.
I may already log in 70 hours a week every week as a program director, but as an educator, a believer in children and an eduholic, how could I say no??? I gave a resounding yes, of course, and proceeded to pull out books to evaluate his skill with sight words, decoding and comprehension. It was while we were decoding the word “imitation” that he learned what “tion” sounds like and had one of those glorious aha moment. And that’s when I remembered that eduholics are addicted for a great reason. We can’t get enough of kids learning. For those addicted to closing the achievement gap, it’s that we can’t get enough of getting the most struggling kids to learn, especially if they’re almost 17 and just learning what “tion” sounds like. And most especially if they eat all their vegetables and help make after-dinner tea.
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