Answering Questions, Working Together, and Conquering Chemistry

24 Aug

This week I’ve been reminded of why I love what I do. I talk to students all day about their struggles with writing. This week, I talked to a high school student who’s old enough to be a sophomore but is still categorized as a freshman. With his creativity and quiet curiosity, this kid has stolen the hearts of my family and my in-laws. With his determination and running talent he’s made the high school sports column of the local paper numerous times, even though he’s been running for only one year. Right now, he’s probably the second fastest kid in the state. Unfortunately, this fellow is also severely dyslexic, and too many folks have written him off. His running was in jeopardy this year because of his low grades, but he and I are working now to make sure he doesn’t have to worry about that again. Yesterday, he told me that biology, not English, was his biggest obstacle of the day, so I—an English teacher—proceeded to help him with chemistry, which apparently is now also taught in biology. Together we managed to work out some complicated compounds, and by the end of his worksheet, we both felt like we’d conquered chemistry. My first thought for this post was of how starved some of our students are for us just to answer their questions. This fellow’s parents are absent, and his extended family is incapable of helping him academically, though they are very supportive of him receiving help. He won’t ask questions in his classes because he’s embarrassed by his struggles to understand. Earlier this week, he asked me how to spell “dirt,” a question he’d never ask his classroom teacher. One-on-one, however, he has more questions outside of his homework than we can answer in an hour. My second thought was of the connectivity of the organizations behind the scenes in this fellow’s life. He’s a high school student whose cross country coach has him working with a community college writing center director who wants to send him to a university where he can run competitively and make it to the Olympic trials. He’s good enough to make the cut by the time he’s running in college. I wanted to emphasize the importance of our goal for this symposium of working together to prepare our students. We’re all on the same team when we’re helping this fellow and other students like him succeed with their goals. My final thought was of how much I want my WC consultants to feel the struggle and the triumph when they work with students that my high school runner and I felt when we conquered chemistry together.


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