Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A teacher's response to vision letters.....

Yesterday,I spoke with a teacher who was a bit disheartened. She had come back excited for a fresh start for the new year, especially with one student. They had clashed much of the fall, and nothing she did seemed to work. By December, she had discovered strategies that were truly making a difference, and this student was moving from a sullen, disrespective student into a reluctant, but willing learner. With this foundation, the new year looked promising.

On the first two days back, her student was withdrawn. He was not disruptive, but he wasn't engaged either. She approached him in positive ways, with no response. On the third day, she asked students to write a vision letter as I described in yesterday's post. While students shared their ideas,she shared hers:

My year was great because each student in my class knew that I believed in him or her, and the knew that no matter what, I was there for them.

At the end of the day, her student handed her his letter, and quickly left. And she read these words:

I didn't think it would be good when it started. My dad told me at Christmas that I wasn't any good and he wished I wasn't alive.

Then, he had scribbled a note at the bottom:

Do you really believe in me? I hope so.

I was reminded of a quote from a friend that I regularly share with teachers in my workshops:
On your worst day, you are someone's best hope. Please know you make a difference, even when you are struggling, and even when nothing is going right. You do make a difference, even when you don't feel like it....especially when you don't feel like it.


  1. Great post! I have been a bit disheartened too...it sounds like the teacher you discussed and I are teaching the same student. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. So glad you posted. It is hard so much of the time, and it's easy to lose our enthusiasm. Hang in there--you are making a difference.

  3. That brought tears to my eyes. We never know what a child is going through outside of our school walls. I will try and remember that as I interact with my students.


  4. Reaching a child is why we all do what we do. Not always easy but rewarding when it happens.


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