Part 4: Koolaid and Grades

myclassI’ve always had some sort of technology in my classroom. I was known as the “techy” math teacher after a while. When Koolaid came to my classroom as a sophomore, it would be no different. That year, I added a new tool to my arsenal, SMART Response. Koolaid was never one to volunteer answers in class.  He wanted no one to know that he was smart. Our clickers enabled him to participate comfortably. That meant something! It meant that I could teach class, he could learn and he could get back on track, which he did.

Sophomore year was the year that the honor roll became important to him. Koolaid had never been on the honor roll, but was fully capable. He had an older sister who was an all A student. She was expected to make those grades every time  Since Koolaid never made good grades, he was expected to hopefully pass. I remember laughing about it with him as he said that he didn’t want to make all As and Bs or else they (his parents) would want that every six weeks and he wasn’t doing that!

The honor roll didn’t happen the first time that Koolaid tried and he was devastated. That moment was important because in his mind, he failed. The odd thing was that he improved in every class but a C in English kept him from his goal. It wasn’t a failure, but since it wasn’t the honor roll, it was to him. It was another goal that he felt he could not meet. However, it was a teachable moment about hard work and resilience. Koolaid would go on to make the honor roll the next grading period because he accepted what hard work could do and did it.

What I did not expect was the moment that immediately followed. The honor roll was important because Koolaid wanted the validation at home. He wanted to see his mother smile and be happy. She didn’t even respond to it and he was hurt.

I remember this because we were able to have another discussion about finding success and doing it for ourselves, not for anyone else. Sometimes, the one that we need to make happy is the person that is deep inside of us. We forget about that sometimes and being able to remind him of that is something that I am proud of as a teacher.

As with all things, I wish that this year could be wrapped in a pretty bow but it can’t. This was also the year that Koolaid was officially jumped into a gang.

The end of sophomore year…

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