Tuesday, September 29, 2009


This was a post I had made on a message board in response to someone's question about the Legacy that we waned to leave.  I LOVE this story, so I thought I would share it!!

A story:
When I was in my 3rd year of teaching (2nd year at this school in an area w/ LOW LOW SES kids, many bilingual) 1st grade I had a student that changed me forever. This student was a HANDFULL, to say the least! I had a TOUGH group of kids (not the worst I ever had, but close!) with a LOT that required special attention. Some spoke no English, some still couldnt identify ANY letters (or find their name on a paper!), ADHD, one boy--who is now identified as autistic- this was my SECOND year to have him and he was just realizing that there were other people in the room with him-and I was fighting the system to get him some HELP of ANY KIND!!

Anyway, this one student, E, took up about 80% of my time because of his behavior. He was LOW academically and couldnt sit still if his life depended on it. He was also bigger and picked on the other kids to distract from the fact that he didnt understand.

He always ended up on the floor...he would start to get up, push his chair back, and start walking/running all in one movement and land on the floor EVERY time...I have NEVER seen anything like it! He fell more than anyone I have ever seen!!! Anyway, this child was in trouble, a LOT. His desk was isolated from everyone else's and at the end of the day it looked like a tornado had hit in a 3 foot radius of his desk!

He got in trouble with the office quite a bit, too. One time he had drawn in crayon ALL over my floor and another time, all over the carpet. No one could ever break this child. The assistant principal (who was TOUGH and SCARY) had been in his face about these incidences and he never ONCE flinched or cried (MOST first graders will cry under this pressure!)...with E, you could SEE him put a wall up and just stand there stoic-ly.

So, being the "tough teacher" wasnt working...so I decided to "kill him with kindness" (for lack of a better term). Obviously, this wasnt working, there had to be SOME way to get through to him. So, he became my helper. The 80% of my day with him became more centered around what he COULD do rather than what he COULDNT do. He ran errands for me (great to get them walking and blow off steam!) and I truly began to enjoy him! During this time, he began to make progress in his work. He qualified for SpEd and began getting a lot of help.

We found out that he didnt live in our district, and because of tight numbers (I had 23 students), we had no choice but to ask him to move to the school that went with where he lived.

I was devistated!!

We had made SO much progress and I didnt want all that to be ruined when he went to a new teacher and tested her boundaries like he had mine.

On his last day, I told him that it was his last day (his mom had not) and he teared up. This is the child that NEVER cried. I teared up, too, and put my forhead on his, grabed his cheeks and told him that


The next day, the family had to come back to get some paperwork and E asked to get some water...well, he snuck down to our classroom and ran in while I was sitting in the beanbag for carpet time. He fell on top of me in the BIGGEST hug and then turned to leave. When he was at the door, I said "E, what are you ALWAYS going to remember?" and he said "That you wuv me no matter what" (with his speach impediment!).

Man, those few days changed how I taught from that point on. I had always been strict and had required a LOT out of my students (and they alway rose to the challenge)...but E taught me to MEAN something to them. I hope that those few months that he was with me changed the rest of his life b/c SOMEONE believed in him...I feel like he could be the ONE (hopefully there are more ;) !!) student who looks back and says "I had this 1st grade teacher that taught me to believe in myself" as he reached for his dreams. I do not know where E is today. He would be in the 6th grade now, taller than me, I am sure.

Like I said, I had always been strict, but since my time with E, I had also become nurturing as well. I learned a balance of discipline, nurturing, and respect. I would not have made it my next few years without that combination

I had a year of flying desks, punches, screming parents, where I felt like I wasnt teaching academics but SOCIAL skills every day...that class ended up BLOWING the state test out of the water and proving to me that they learned BOTH while in my room and that ANYTHING was possible. They owe that to E!  THAT year was my toughest ever, but I wouldnt trade it...well, MOST of it!

Since E, I have had MANY troubled students and have always been that one teacher that could "get through" to them. E taught me to never give up. SOMETHING will work for every student and it was MY job to find out what that was. I hate sending these kids onto new teachers, b/c most are not willing to go above and beyound for them...I can only pray that they remember the respect and love that they got while in Mrs. Stephens' 1st or 3rd grade classes!!

Talk about legacy...E changed mine forever, and I am so thankful to him!!  Hopefully,  I changed his as well as many others that came through my classroom when I was still teaching.

1 comment:

Stacy said...

Love that! Great post...

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