One of my students had an issue with his homework. The issue? He never did it. It was eventually decided that a call home was needed. Oh how I dreaded that. But thankfully, his father was very appreciative. “He’s always been an A student, so we never had to check on his homework,” he explained. “We were surprised when he got a B first quarter in your class.” I explained how homework is the practice students need in order for the material to move from short-term to long-term memory – and that’s why he did poorly on his tests. The father promised to take away some privileges and keep on top of him.
Well, it worked. Since that conversation two weeks ago, he’s had his homework in on time every day. So I called dad to tell him what a good job his son was doing. Then, I walked in today to find him with an excuse as to why last night’s homework wasn’t in my basket. Ugh. Just when I thought it was getting better. He swears he had it earlier. Two classmates attest to this fact. But he can’t seem to find it. “I’ll reprint the worksheet for you and you can do it at recess,” I said.
When recess came, he came into my classroom to do his work. Normally if the work isn’t in on time, it’s a zero. But today I gave him a gift. “I believe you when you say you had it,” I say. “So I’m not going to give you a zero as long as you turn it in by the end of recess.” “Thank you,” he said.
As he worked, he stopped once in a while to chat with me about random thoughts that crossed his mind. “My sister took this course and she said it made high school a lot easier.” “Oh, really?” I said, hoping he’d continue. “Yeah – so I’m glad I’m taking it now.” Did he really just say that? The student who complained the first two months that he didn’t want to be in this class? The one who said he wasn’t good enough to be in this advanced course? I had noticed a turn in him the last couple weeks and it was amazing to watch.
That afternoon, he found his homework. He had put it in the wrong section of his binder. Organizational skills is one of the topics we’re working on, so I’m just happy it was in his binder. And thankful that by believing him and beliving in him, he’s come to believe in himself.
To see what other gifts I’ve given as part of the 29 Gifts project and to read about others doing the project, click here.