Sunday, February 04, 2007

Significant Gains

The organization I'm a part of pushes us to achieve "significant gains". To catch kids up academically so to speak.
The focus is on reading and math.
We have investment plans and tracking tools and endless amounts of data.
The people at "the office" are very good about focusing on all of this. They see the big picture -the numbers across the country - how we're "affecting change" for thousands of kids in schools from NYC to LA.
That vision is what brought me here. I was driven by a desire to make significant gains and teach kids to read and add and multiply and write so much so that I left my family and the life I had built in Minneapolis to start over in New York City. 5 months in to this my idea of significant gains has changed.
I don't see numbers or visions of organizations anymore. I see Joshua with his chubby cheeked smile, Jose with eyes that light up when I call on him, Adony who smiles when he sees me walk through the gate in the morning, even though he tries to hide it, Mario, who follows me around until he gets the help he needs, Amanda who gives hugs so long I have to remind her you only hug for 5 seconds....and on and on with their quirks and personailities that have no place on a spreadsheet.
They're my mission - guiding them through this year of their life. Reading and math are only a part of that. Leaving them without giving part of myself and without taking part of them with me is cheating all involved. They are my significant gain.
The link above is to a video a teacher at my school jokes should star my students.
Significant gains, to me, is so much more than my kids' reading and math data. It's their ability to interact with other people. It's their ability to trust me, as an adult, a white person, and an authority figure. It's my ability to spark in them a curiosity that makes them want to learn.
It's knowing that in 5 years they will be in school, not on the street or in jail, and knowing that I did everything within my power to make that happen.

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