I teach a 14-year-old boy (Student B) who faces many challenges. He experiences severe anxiety, misses many days of school, struggles with socialization skills, and earnes failing grades. Student B doesn’t write much. And like many students who present with writing weaknesses, his main goal is to increase his writing fluency: “Student B will be able to write a well-developed, five-paragraph essay with a thesis statement and supporting details.”
Quarter one and two ended without Student B producing many words on the page. While he demonstrated above grade-level reading comprehension, his literary analysis didn’t transfer into written expression, nor was he able to write more than a paragraph for his fictional narrative. By the start of the third quarter, Student B had shown little progress toward his writing goal, and our persuasive essay unit was set to begin. Something had to change.
Fortunately, for the past month, Student B had agreed to stay after school on Tuesdays to receive one-on-one writing support. We decided to set short, very specific writing goals to complete during each of the one-hour sessions. Once Student B settled on a prompt he was able to produce a plan and write four of the five paragraphs after over three sessions.
Now the miracle: Last week, after our third session, I asked Student B to try and finish the concluding paragraph at home. Until then, he had never completed a writing assignment outside of our one-on-one session, but that all changed this week. On Tuesday, Student B entered my seventh period English class and proudly announced that he had finished his concluding paragraph. Amazing! I sang his praise all day. Student B stayed after school with me on Tuesday and worked on revising and editing his first ever, five-paragraph persuasive essay.
As teachers, I know you teach similar students and experience similar small miracles in your classroom. This post is a shout out to you. To us. We, teachers, develop relationships and build trust with our most vulnerable students, so that these small miracles can happen when our students are ready to share them.