Monday, June 11, 2012

Never Surrender!

 


If you haven't dropped by Elana's yet to sign up, there's still time - the blogfest starts today and runs through to Friday June 15th! Click here! :)
As most of you know, I'm a teacher. Over the years I've taught a lot of kids - and I've taught in a variety of setting and in a variety of schools.

One of those kids will always have a special place within my heart. I'm going to borrow the name of Elana's yummy male MC in Surrender and call this boy Gunner.

Gunner came to our school and my class with enough baggage to fill a plane's cargo hold. He not only had ADHD/ADD, but ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), anxiety disorder and several other medical disorders/conditions. (I won't say more for fear of identifying Gunner - I've taught more than 20 kids who have been diagnosed with all 4 disorders listed above, so I'm confident his identity is safe).

Gunner's family life was far from stellar. I won't go into details here for those same reasons. Whatever you're imagining right now, it was probably worse.

As expected, Gunner didn't find it easy to be in school. On top of the medical conditions, he had a learning impairment. Reading & writing were tough - he was 5 years behind his peers academically in those areas. Math was harder. Add in a new school, his nerves about facing new adults, his fear of people thinking he was stupid, his aggression towards the other kids and it wasn't an easy start for him. Or me :)

About 2 weeks in, Gunner stopped beside me at the end of the day and said, "You don't yell at all do you?" He grinned that mischevious grin of his and sauntered out the door with a wave. That's when I let out my first deep breath and figured I really might be able to help him.

Gunner learned to read that year. He found out that 2 + 2 is 4 every time. Every single time. And if he remembered the answer, he didn't have to figure it out every question. He learned he was really good at putting things together and geometry could be a lot of fun. He found out he liked art. He made a friend.

I saw Gunner at a hockey game this winter. He rushed over to give me a hug. Made my day. Heck it made my whole month! I'm glad I didn't give up on Gunner.

Never Surrender.

69 comments:

  1. As a fellow teacher I totally hear you. Sometimes you just have to wonder why kids give up on themselves.

    By the way, thanks to you I have signed up for the Never Surrender blogfest.

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  2. What a great story. I love hearing kids turn around like that. They need people cheering for them and an environment they can be comfortable in.

    My blog schedule is set this week, but I might sign up for the blogfest later on.

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  3. I'm sure it made Gunner's day too. When I went to see my boys play in a footy match one weekend, they were thrilled to see their teacher turn up. It's these little things that show you care and that's what they really need. Good job. :)

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  4. Wonderful Jemi!! What a great story! Thank you for being there for Gunner - you saw the person and not the problems!! Go Gunner!! Well done him too! Take care
    x

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  5. Wonderful story, Jemi! Sometimes kids just need one person to believe in them to reach down and realize what they are capable of doing. I think we all need that.

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  6. What a great story Jemi. That's awesome how you were able to help Gunner see that he could do it. Thanks for sharing it. My post is coming on Friday. Hope you'll stop by.

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  7. Jeremy - it's so hard when the kids have given up on themselves! It's so much harder to help them then. So glad you're joining the blogfest!! :)

    Medeia - there's no better feeling than helping a kid change their lives for the better!

    Charmaine - that's so great! I've been to a few sporting events for my students too - it's such fun to watch their favces! :)

    Old Kitty - it's so nice to run into kids long after I've taught them and hear how well they're doing! :)

    Alex - thanks. We all need someone in our corner!

    Natalie - I'm looking forward to it! :)

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  8. Love those kids that touch your heart and remind you why you became a teacher in the first place. And it's even more magical when they find you years later and tell you of their successes! Fabulous.

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  9. Oh, Jemi, what a wonderful post. Those moments make all the hard work in teaching very, very worth it. I bet you're an amazing teacher.

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  10. Mary - it really is magical! I love meeting up with kids later on and hearing how they're doing!

    Talli - thank you! It's so great when you know you've been able to help out a kid in a tough situation. :)

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  11. I know one child with ODD and I know how tough it is dealing with the condition. That's awesome that you got through to him and helped him like that. *hugs*

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  12. Aw. Really beautiful story. Glad you didn't give up on that little boy and I'm glad he didn't give up on himself.

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  13. I love this story because it's a person story. I wager many stories (like my own) will be about never giving up on a dream or a goal, but in the end, it's people that really matter. My admiration for teachers who go the extra mile with kids like this is HUGE. He'll probably remember you forever for sticking with him.

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  14. teachers are paid with visible results and they get more of a break to refuel so their patience lasts longer! i teach & have a rambunctious add son.

    thanks for sticking with your students!

    ps, i have an award for you =)

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  15. Love this story, Jemi. As the school year winds down here, your experience with Gunner is even more meaningful to me.

    Shelley

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  16. I must admit, when Gunner said, "You don't yell at all, do you?" I thought it was going to turn into a tale of terror and torture as he did everything in his power to try to get you to yell! It's a great feeling knowing you've had such a positive impact on the lives of your students. Nice story.

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  17. Kids are vulnerable AND have a secret strength they tap into when adults (and other kids)let them down. They really just want to be like everybody else and have the same opportunities. Most of the time, it's not a level playing field.

    Teresa

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  18. What a sweet story and what a patient, caring person you are! So glad you were able to help this boy. I always remember the teachers and mentors who helped me in my childhood, and I'm sure he will remember you for all his life.

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  19. Jemi, the students with the biggest problems, the ones who need us the most -- those are the ones we remember in our hearts forever.

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  20. This is such a sweet story! Teachers are too under appreciated. It's wonderful to hear about you doing your job because you care so much about making a positive difference in a child's life! Thanks for sharing your story. :)

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  21. Good story,Jemi! Many times, in situations like this, it's a matter of finding the key that unlocks the learning side of the mind. For some it's finding the path through all the piles of angst out in front for them to hide behind.

    I've had some personal experience with some of those disorders (and add TBS). I'm happy to say, neither my son nor I gave up--his school did--but I taught him at home. Researched and spoke with experts. Finding the key was cause for celebration! He's starting college in August to fulfill his dream of being an Automotive Tech and eventually having his own shop.

    My mantra is, if you can envision it, if you really want it, you can do it.

    Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

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  22. And those are the golden moments of teaching! Wonderful story.

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  23. To be that special teacher who makes a difference is a wonderful thing. Bless you.

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  24. Aww, I’ve been reading through all the people doing this blogfest (it’s my first one!), and I’d have to say, your’s is one of my favorites. =)
    ~Aidyl

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  25. Aww, I’ve been reading through all the people doing this blogfest (it’s my first one!), and I’d have to say, your’s is one of my favorites. =)
    ~Aidyl

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  26. Aww, I’ve been reading through all the people doing this blogfest (it’s my first one!), and I’d have to say, your’s is one of my favorites. =)
    ~Aidyl

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  27. What an amazing story, Jemi! You're an inspriration to Gunner and to all of us, too. Teachers are the best!

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  28. Stina - ODD is tough - but it is a learned behaviour and with a lot of hard work and consistency from all the adults, it can be unlearned :)

    Katie - those success stories are what teaching is all about! :)

    Margo - I hope so! He will certainly stick in my mind forever :) And it really is always about the people, isn't it? :)

    Tara - you're a sweetie - thank you! ADD and ADHD can be very challenging - but they can also be a lot of fun!

    Shelley - thank you! I have a couple of Gunners this year - I hope I've been able to help them a bit too!

    Jeff - teehee! Nope, the kids try all their arsenal early to see if they can 'break' us. When they find they can't, they move on. Thankfully! :)

    Teresa - exactly! If we could give these kids the same advantages others have, the world would be such a happier place for them!

    Julie - thank you! It's a pretty specail feeling when you know you've managed to reach through a couple of layers to help someone :)

    Dianne - that is absolutely true! I do have a very special place in my heart for those kids who grow up in tough places.

    Laura - thank you! Teaching really is one of the best jobs on the planet. :)

    Sia - what an awesome story! I had to look up TBS - that's a tough addition to the others. It's so great when you can find that key and really reach someone. Those light bulb moments are awesome. I'm so glad he's managed to find his!!! YAY! :)

    Laura - exactly! They're worth every moment spent on report cards! :)

    Lynn - thank you - but he just needed a safe place to be :)

    Linda - thank you! It's moments like those we teach for :)

    Aidyl - thank you!! Welcome to the world of blogfests - they're so much fun!

    Elizabeth - thank you! Gunner earned all the credit though. It was tough - but he did it!! :)

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  29. I do admire you, Jemi. I worked with kids like that for years. After a while I think it burnt me out. I'd like to think I helped a few 'Gunners' along the way. I can well understand how overwhelming his response must have been.

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  30. Great story. Sometimes all the hassles involved with teaching is worth it.

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  31. Rosalind - I bet you helped more than a few Gunners. They can sneak right into your heart and melt it. It's definitely a job with a high burn out rate - the emotions can be overwhelming!

    Susan - teehee! It's always worth it - just harder to remember that on some days! :)

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  32. Ooh! I just LOVED this post! It sounds like you're a wonderful teacher and your students are lucky to have you. As for Gunner, I hope he is blessed with other good teachers and is able to overcome his difficulties.

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  33. Caryn - Gunner did a whole lot of that work himself - he just needed a safe place to learn to take risks :)

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  34. Hey Jemi thanks for stopping by the blog. This was an amazing story.

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  35. Shelli - you're very welcome! It's been a crazy chaotic month, but I'm getting back on track (mostly...) :)

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  36. That is such a wonderful story...and testament to you! Gunner was so lucky to have found you at just the right time. :)

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  37. DL - thank you so much - but it's really a testament to Gunner - he's the one who put in the work. I just gave him a safe place to do it :)

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  38. Hi Jemi,
    That was just awesome and testimony to your genuine caring to Gunner, who in turn, was inspired and let his inspiration grow to an even more profound positivity.
    A virtual shiny apple, your way, Gary :)

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  39. Gary - thank you! Shiny virtual apples always accepted! Gunner deserves most of the credit - but it was an honour to help him along his way :)

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  40. Kids are so precious. Thank goodness for wonderful teachers like you who care, and who don't give up.

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  41. This is a great story! One of the best I've read. Thanks so much for being a great teacher!! The kids need someone like you. :) *hugs*

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  42. Pat - thank you! Kids are worth every moment we give them - every effort :)

    Elana - thanks so much! I don't know if I'm a great teacher, but I do my best to make our classroom a safe & happy one for everyone :)

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  43. Just stopping by from the blog hop. I love this story...I've had one or two Gunners in my day (I teach 7th grade). I always love to root for Gunners and the teachers who inspire them. Thanks for sharing! *new follower*

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  44. Lovely post! Wish my son would have been lucky enough to have had such a teacher as you!

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  45. Kimberly - nice to meet you! :) I love rooting for those Gunners too - it's so awesome when they succeed :)

    Siv - thank you! It's so hard on kids when they don't feel comfortable with the teacher. I hope he's doing well!

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  46. I'm sure that did make your month. Because you didn't surrender, and he didn't surrender, his life was forever changed - for good!

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  47. What an inspirational story! As a fellow teacher, I know that it's those little moments, like a student running up to give you a hug, or figuring out something in math all on their own for the first time, that make it worth it :-)

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  48. RaShelle - he worked so hard that year! It was so nice to see it pay off :)

    Rachel - those really are the moments! It's so nice to see kids who have it tough succeed!

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  49. Great post, so inspirational. I wish my boys had a teacher like that.

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  50. Ciara - thank you! A classroom should be a safe place for every child - letting them take risks and chances - and learn to trust themselves. It makes me sad when it's not like that.

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  51. Good luck to Elana and Never Surrender! I have an image and link on my side bar for her book. Anything I can do to help the good people of Blogdom.

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  52. Stephen - that's sweet of you! I'm terrible at updating my sidebar. It just kind of sits there most of the time :P

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  53. Wow, this is the perfect example of how much of a difference a teacher can make in a child's life. It breaks my heart that there are so many Gunners that just need some love and encouragement, but it's encouraging to know that there are others waiting with open arms. Amazing post.

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  54. Dezzy - thank you! :)

    Cynthia - thank you! The Gunners of the world need us desperately. Love and trust should start in the home,but when they don't, the world can be such a scary place!

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  55. A great story, lovely Jemi! Differences you make in a students life will stay with that student.

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  56. Nas - I hope so! Some of these poor little ones don't have lots of love and consistency at home, so it's important for them to get it at school :)

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  57. Golden Eagle - thank you! I'm just glad Gunner is doing well. :)

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  58. Oh, Jemi! He is so lucky to have had you for a teacher! I'm a teacher too and these moments of seeing children succeeding (especially struggling children) are why most of us are in education. Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming story!

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  59. Kelly - thank you! Helping kids like Gunner really is the best part of the job. Those poor munchkins really need us!

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  60. Oh, wow! I'm glad you didn't give up on Gunner, too! My oldest son was diagnosed under the table, so to speak, with ADHD when he was just 3. But was officially diagnosed at age 5 1/2. Raising him was no easy task, especially between the grade ages of 4th to 6th grade. Those were the toughest. But he had the most incredible 4th and 5th grade teacher. She helped him champion through. He graduated from HS last week, and received early acceptance to the college of his choice. Just imagine if someone would have given up on him. OR Gunner.

    I stand and applaud teachers like you. They make a difference more often than they know. Thank you for sharing.

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  61. SA - thank you so much! It's so nice to hear the story about your son. Those middle grades can be so, so tough on kids - especially when they have a tough diagnosis to cope with! I'm so glad he had that teacher to help him! Congrats to him on graduating and getting into his college - that's awesome!! :) Love stories like that one :)

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  62. I am also a teacher. I always have the autism inclusion class or the ESE co-teach class. Next year I'll have Intensive Reading kids. I can totally relate. We always have to do what's best for kids. They're never the problem in my experience, although there's been plenty of times I wish I could punch a parent in the face, and I'm not that type of person, lol. ~Cheers to teachers never giving up:)

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  63. I am also a teacher. I always have the autism inclusion class or the ESE co-teach class. Next year I'll have Intensive Reading kids. I can totally relate. We always have to do what's best for kids. They're never the problem in my experience, although there's been plenty of times I wish I could punch a parent in the face, and I'm not that type of person, lol. ~Cheers to teachers never giving up:)

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  64. Jamie - love it! I know exactly what you mean! There are so many times I've wondered how the kids have turned out as well as they have!

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  65. Okay, you have my crying. I've had my share of "Gunners" walk through my classroom door. I swear as challenging as they can be, they are the ones that steal your heart and make you stay in the teaching trenches year after year. Thanks for sharing.

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  66. Leslie - thank you! Those Gunners really do steal your heart! It's impossible not reach out to them when they so obviously need every little thing you can give them. :)

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