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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Never Give Up

I was ready to quit on this kid. I know~ as teachers we are supposed to reach every child~ educate them all~ inspire them all to greatness.

But I think this student hated meat least when we first met.

She is a fifth-grader in the schools gifted program~ which I took over this summer when I accepted a new position and relocated to a new school system. From the start~ we butted heads. I began teaching the gifted group using a math program~ called the Stock Market Game. Most of the kids were excited to invest virtual money in various companies and compete against other teams around the state.

She was bored.

I shared another project.

She hated it.

It seemed no matter what I tried~ I could not engage this otherwise~ extremely bright~ creative child. When Id enter her classroom~ shed turn her head~ avoid eye contact or make a face. I had zero rapport.

So I stepped back~ took a breath~ thought about it. In the meantime~ I chatted with her mom about the situation~ learned as much as I could about this child.

Then~ one day~ while trying to come up with a topic for her independent study project~ I learned that she was interested in journalism.

Oh~ you like journalism~ I said. Did you know that I worked as a newspaper reporter for five years~ before becoming a teacher?

Really~ her eyes widened.

That was the hook. We designed her project around creating her own magazine~ a kid-friendly publication about music~ sports~ and campus news.

Since then~ the project has taken a life of its own. The student has begun interviewing teachers and coaches on campus for articles; she has written opinion pieces; shes designed her cover and created a logo. Furthermore~ she has expanded the project to recruiting fellow students to work as editors~ reporters~ and photographers and is currently in the hiring process.

Our relationship has taken a turn for the better as well. Now~ she runs up to me when I enter the classroom to show off an article she has written or pitch a new idea for her publication. She wrote me a thank-you note. It is like night and day.

Unfortunately~ I just learned that she is moving out of state. I spoke with her mother about trying to continue the magazine project at her new school.

The situation has revived my love for teaching and the thrill I get when a student becomes totally engrossed in a project. Hopefully~ this will serve as an example to other educators~ as a reminder to never give up on a child~ knowing that success can be right around the corner.