In terms of "real" or rather, making a difference in a student's life my first accomplishment was playing a part in helping "Student A" reach his school goal. I met him in my first year of teaching. He was a young, unmotivated year 12 student who just liked to muck around at school and play soccer with his mates. His teachers and parents were frustrated with him because everyone knew he had "what it takes to succeed" but he just wasn't into school work. Through gradually working with him, being a warm demander, constantly encouraging him and slipping him some "maturity pills" every now and again.
It must have been the Easter egg laced with maturity pills or a massive realignment of the planets that caused some switching on of "Student A's" brain. Perhaps it was a lightning bolt but whatever it was at the beginning of term 2 of year 13, with little over 20 teaching weeks of school ever, this young man came to me and told me his goal was to get into "Med School" at the end of the year. Woah! Did I really hear him? "Very ambitious" thought I, but I going to say nothing, unless it was words of encouragement; encouraging him to reach for the stars. His contemporaries couldn't believe what they were seeing.
Together Student A & I worked out a plan on how to gain maximum credits. This involved:-
- rearranging his timetable ( a big risk to take one-third of the way through his final year)
- dropping "creative cooking" and picking up biology in Year 13 (fortunately our school has no pre-requisites)
- completing a science based Impact Project to ensure he was deepening his content knowledge and hopefully gaining some extra credits.
Boy did he own his learning for the rest of the year. He had a goal and set himself extremely high expectations. Outside school he cut down his socialising, was the sober driver for his partying friends at the weekends and, if not working at his weekend job was studying.
I didn't see him over the summer.
Just after the exam results came out at the end of the summer I ran into this young man's mother. I "had" to ask how he'd got on (my fingers were crossed behind my back). He was going to "Med School". I was elated for him and his very proud mum and.......I shed a tear! Not out of frustration, utter confusion or despair but out of sheer delight that this young man had set himself high goals, totally took control of his learning and gained the SUCCESS he wanted in a very short space of time.