Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Little Things

When I signed on to teach special education in the sticks of North Carolina, I pictured myself as a 2011 version of Erin Gruwell. We'd play a game of "stand on the line", cry and bond, and spend the year discussing literature, world peace, and the human condition.

Strangely, things haven't really been that way.

At the beginning of the year, J. and T. came to me as thirteen year old boys barely reading on a kindergarten level. They'd mainly survived in school by actin' a fool, which distracted teachers by effectively shifting all of their energy onto the boys' behavior. These boys are in my classroom with me all day because our school district doesn't have an alternative school. I'm the alternative school.


Unfortunately for them, I'm the daughter of two Naval officers. And I quickly let them know that I wasn't having none of it. 

As of Friday? They're officially on a first grade reading level.

At first, that doesn't seem like much. They're still six grade levels behind where they need to be. But think of it this way:  J. and T. have grown more in the past eight weeks than they have in the past eight years of school.

So there you have it. Somewhere deep inside these angry, tough, pull-your-hair-out frustrating teenagers are incredibly intelligent, wildly funny, and caring boys that I'm blessed to spend my days with. No one makes me smile bigger or my blood boil faster. Our good days are very, very good and our bad days....well, use your imagination.

It's the tiny moments of our day that are the most special. Watching T. choose his own book from the shelf. J. and I laughing about a book together. The way they fist-pounded each other with pride after sharing the news that they'd both improved so quickly.

We may not be discussing fine literature, but soon we'll be reading second grade books. And that's just fine with me.

(Look for our movie in theaters May 2013.)

6 comments:

The Unsinkable Molly Brown said...

That's awesome Ensley! I really enjoy reading your blog :)

Sarah Beth - Dixie Gator Gal said...

Awesome!! You are an inspiration, and helped me to see how super important literacy is!

Shae Majors said...

Miss Ensley!!!!!!!!

I am so proud and blessed to have you as a friend!!!!

Ahhhh this is so exciting!!!!!!!

I am so glad for all of you! You're getting feathers for your angel wings by the minute!!!

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Emily Dill said...

randomly stumbled on your blog and i LOVE it. I'm also an education major (elem and early childhood) set to finish up with my masters next May ... and stories like that is EXACTLY why my heart and passion lies within teaching. I literally got chills reading that post.

That is SO great & I can't wait to keep reading your blog and reading more success stories and more lessons learned (loved the one about giving him choices!)

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