I’m so grateful to read this, Tino Hadley. I’m thrilled for you, but happy for me as well. It gives me hope for the futures of my students.
This is what I accomplish in middle school. And discussions like this make me wonder, all over again, if what I’m doing is enough. I promise you, I’m not selling them short like your teachers did you… I genuinely see their potential, and build on their strengths, yet I see so little in the way of academic growth.
Frankly, they don’t have the drive, the grit, you describe. If it gets too hard, they want to shut down. I’ll admit, a part of me would like to believe that, because of the horrible way you were treated, you had a chip on your shoulder that was interfering with your learning. To think otherwise would mean I should be able to take these (basically) non-readers, and turn them into avid readers and writers like you. But, either way, I’ll keep plugging away, because it’s so important.
You rock! I’m proud of you. Like H. Nemesis, you made the decision to push through the difficulties and do whatever it took to get the job done. That decision is the key (and the number one thing I try to push in the three years I have with my students before they leave me). Thanks again for sharing your story.