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One positive to turn around a lifetime of negatives

Title – One positive to turn around a lifetime of negatives

By – Jennifer A. Ponsart

This new semester, I was told that I was going to get a new homeroom. It was a class that several teachers have complained about. I thought, ‘Oh dear, can I handle this group?’ So I prepared for them by asking our Dean of Students which ones needed help, and which ones I had to keep an eye on.

She told me about the group. One boy was purposefully failing so that he would be moved back to his father’s house in another state.

After I met my new homeroom, I thought, ‘This isn’t so bad. In fact, they are better than last semester’s homeroom.’

All special areas teachers have been asked to work on preparing the students for state standards testing. As I was working with the kids on reading arithmetic questions and then giving them problems to solve, something amazing happened. The student who had been failing was raising his hand and answering questions correctly.

Later in the day I had that class again for study hall. I spoke to the student about how I was proud of his efforts and gave him a positive letter to take home for his parents. He said, “I wish you had been my teacher last semester. You are the first one to send a positive note home.” He was so excited and encouraged that he was almost crying. At the end of the class period he thanked me again.

I know this student will be successful this semester. I could read it on his face. Sometimes teachers categorize students rather than see their potential. Too often we focus on the negative rather than the positive. It is possible for one positive to turn around a lifetime of negatives in our students. The reward of making a difference is awesome!

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Jennifer A. Ponsart

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