Old students

I had a student last year who once wrote in her journal about how much she hated me and my class.  A few weeks later, she wrote me an apology journal saying how sorry she was for being immature and resolving to work hard.  I don’t teach her anymore, but she’s the only one who makes sure to say hi to me every time she sees me in the hallways.

There was a student in 2-5 last year whose gaze always haunted me.  She had eyes like deep, empty wells, and not once had i seen even a hint of an expression on her face.  Never smiled.  She never said a word in class.  She always did other work in my after school class.  She wasn’t defiant; she was just blank and lifeless.  And then, during one of my last classes that semester, something changed in her:   she smiled for the first time.  I haven’t seen her since.

2-6 was always the quiet, obedient class.  There was a Vietnamese student in that class who never did any work for my class.  Her journal grades were a straight row of 0’s.  In my final lessons, however, she grew uncharacteristically attentive:   her eyes never left me.  And she had a constant smile on her face, the kind of smile you see on students who are genuinely enjoying your class and hanging on your every word.  She was always beautiful.  I saw her outside the school recently and said hi, and she gave me the biggest smile, one that i’ll never forget.

I had a student in 2-5 who used to be terrified of my class.  Never raised her head, always avoided eye contact with me.  Waited for other students to talk to her instead of initiating anything.  When called on, she would drop her head further and sit it out until i had no choice but to move on to someone else.  She stayed behind a year so i have her again now.  She hasn’t changed.  She wrote in her latest journal about how difficult my class is.  I don’t know how to help these students when they refuse to come to me for help…  I wonder if i’ll ever get her to talk.

There is an ECA (English Conversation Ambassador) i’m quite fond of.  She was less than mediocre as a student in 2-6, especially poor compared to the rest of the class, which had the highest GPA in the Liberal Arts division of Grade 2.  She was one of those students i fail to notice:  not great at all, but not so bad as to disappoint me.  She came to me the Friday before the English Writing Contest to ask for advice on how to improve as much as possible before the contest on Monday.  I said there’s really not much you can do in such a short period of time, but advised her to read the blogs and Twitters i’d suggested early in the semester to familiarize herself with real English writing and get Konglish writing out of her head.  And she really must’ve worked hard at it, because her essay turned out to be one of the best in the contest (i gave her fourth place, which won her an award).  It was a moving and heartfelt essay on gay rights, written with such compassion and conviction, unlike the thoughtless, mechanical, Konglish-infested essays from the Math and Sciences students who didn’t take my class.  She said she couldn’t believe she’d actually won an award.  She worked even harder from then on, eventually becoming one of my seven ECAs and participating in my winter camp as Art Director for the student-created film.  She’s a kick-ass artist and makes the best brownies.  I saw her this morning walking with her friends to school, laughing and chatting.  She used to be shy and quiet, having trouble making friends.  I’ve never seen her this happy and confident.


Filed under teaching

3 responses to “Old students

  1. Eve

    On the street today, I just ran into one of my favorite students from last year who graduated. We spent a few minutes catching up. It was great to see her in her new, high-school uniform, with a new sense of maturity that seemed to go along with it.

  2. Matthew

    I’d like to know the story behind 2-5.

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