Direction #4 – Encourage One Another

Originally posted on Miss P’s Ponderings on April 19, 2012

In the journey though this academic year, my language arts class has enjoyed three rounds of “Book Club”.  OK, I’ve enjoyed the clubs…and most of my students enjoyed the clubs, but I’m sure there is a handful who would’ve rather just read the textbook instead. For the most part, these have been successful learning experiences for both my students and me. 

Today’s post focuses on the journey of two of the boys in my language class.  You see, during that first round of “Book Club”, they chose not to stay on top of their reading assignments and discussion questions.  Perhaps, it was their first experience with this type of literacy learning and they didn’t realize how not doing an assignment could snowball?  In the midst of that first trip through the discussion groups, I received e-mails from the parents of each of these two students.  It seems that both boys were “suddenly” not wanting to come to school.

After learning this news, I reflected on what could have happened in class that would cause this sudden change.  You see, these two boys have loads of friends, positive attitudes, and do well in school.  So, the epiphany came that they knew I would be disappointed that they weren’t prepared and they would be even further behind if they didn’t catch up on the assigned reading.  I shared my realization with both sets of parents and encouraged them to help their sons during the evening to complete their assigned reading/questions prior to the next scheduled discussion meeting.

By this point, their scheduled discussion group was soon approaching.  One of the boys was close, but he wasn’t quite there.  Since he had his morning responsibilities finished, I asked a girl in his discussion group to work with him to get him prepared for our book club meeting.  Great news!  Did you guess?  Yep, both boys were ready for their next discussion.  The two girls in their book club noted how much nicer it was having four students discuss the book rather than simply the two girls.  I praised their efforts in “catching up” and being prepared for the day’s discussion.

Honestly, you would’ve thought the three of us had just showered them with winning lottery tickets.  Wow!  What a difference those simple remarks of encouragement had on those two students.  By the end of that first book club journey, I had received follow-up communication from parents that all was back to normal on the morning front.

Then, in January…book clubs loomed ahead.  I remembered the discouragement those two boys experienced due to not staying up on their assignments, so my class discussed it prior to beginning the journey.  I’m proud to share that both boys decided to complete reading assignments and their discussion booklet prior to meetings.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I still had a couple students who didn’t realize the importance of completing their responsibilities by the assigned discussion dates, but the encouragement those two boys received back during our first book club still continues to motivate and encourage them.

In fact, now we are in the midst of our final book club.  One of those two boys was absent for a few days during the first week.  When he returned, he only had a couple days to read his first group of chapters and complete the discussion guide.  He asked me, “Miss P, is it OK if I don’t use my I-Pad time, so I can work on my book club to be ready for Friday?”

Wow!  What a difference those few words of encouragement made for the rest of the year!  Then, that same boy came to his second discussion group last week, and this was his remark.
 “Miss P, I don’t want this to be our last book club.  I don’t want our language class to end.” 

Now, I’m not so naive to think that part of this isn’t simply his personality.  I mean, the other day when I was reading aloud to my language class and I was wearing sandals, he told me I had pretty toes. [Yep, toenails were painted for Easter, and the polish endures.]  But still, it was a sweet sentiment to share. 

Did you see what happened?  During the first semester, I encouraged him…and during the last nine-weeks, he encouraged me….and I’m not referring to my toenails.

Way back in college (yep, that’ way back since I graduated in 92), I created a little motto for myself that said…
“Encourage those you appreciate, and appreciate those who encourage you.”
Perhaps, you’d like to borrow my motto as your own?  I’ll gladly share it.

Well, my students have arrived, and it’s time to go make a difference…to encourage someone…who will encourage someone…who will encourage someone….

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