Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The missing spark

Day 22 of 31 at TWT!

 "I will make her a new test!" The long-term sub hops quirkily and claps his hands together, eyes bright.

Inside my mask, my mouth is probably a funny combination of hanging open and stretching into a wide grin. He'd walked over to hover at my shoulder as I reviewed my student's practice quizzes with her, and I'd just asked what the real test would be like: would it have long matching sections with words like the one practice quiz, or might it have more pictures like the other?

"Oh wow, thank you, that would be amazing!" I sputter. I've been waiting all year for this to happen with several other colleagues, and just weeks after taking over the class, he's literally jumping to do it. As a sub.

"Yes, yes, I will make her her own test, with not so many words!" He scampers to his desk to grab a sticky note and scurries back to our table.

"Oh thank you so much! That will be wonderful! Some of these element/compound pictures with the little colored circles would be great, and you could also have a picture showing a container with an object inside, and arrows pointing to label the densities of the liquid and the object..." I have to make sure I'm not talking too fast in my excitement about his enthusiasm. I absolutely LOVE collaborating with colleagues to help them better meet their ELs' needs, and it has been harder at this new school than I'd hoped. "... if you make it in a Google Doc, share it with me and I can add some suggestions! Or I can check back in with you the next morning I'm here!" 

"Yes, I can do that! I will make it this weekend and share it with you! I will adjust to your notes! Then she can show her learning without so many words!" 

I lean into my student's ear. "Mr. R is going to make you a new test! It will have more pictures and not so many words. So don't worry!" I know she gets so anxious about tests. "We will work together to make it better for you!"

She nods as imperceptibly as ever, but I see a tiny glimmer of relief in her eyes. 

As the students file out of class, I go back up to his desk. "I really, really appreciate your enthusiasm for making a modified EL test! I'm so excited to work together to help her show her learning better!"

His smile is huge as he nods vigorously. "Yes! I have to! I have to differentiate!" 

I grin. "Yes, absolutely... but not everybody does." The discouragement of my hopes for the year washes through my mind. "Thank you so, so much for caring about our EL students!" I'm so grateful I could fly and cry at the same time.

When he sends me his draft over the weekend, it's even better than I expected. He used a couple other strategies that I would have recommended but hadn't even mentioned yet. I suggest a few wording simplifications and tell him what a great job he did, adding, "Could I use this as an example of an excellent modified test to show colleagues?" 

This could be the missing spark: a model of ownership, enthusiasm, and eagerness to adapt. I can't wait to get the ball rolling.

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