Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Unexpected Metamorphosis

Written by Ms. Berman
Dedicated to the c/o 2014
It is widely known that if there is a loss or change in the personal life of a teenager, a resilient young adult will undergo a paradigm shift and alter his/her behavior in order to compensate for this alternation.  But what happens when that change occurs in a school setting, and it impacts an entire group of students, rather than a specific individual?  This question can be analyzed upon my return to SDHS after a six week hiatus, and the results are quite remarkable.
My sophomores in Honors Chemistry, commonly called “the little kids,” began the first week or two of my absence expressing varied emotions, most of which mimicked panic.  Finals were rapidly approaching, semester grades were on the line, and there was a series of substitute teachers coming in to temporarily fill my position.  Every measure possible was taken to offer the students reassurance that things would work out, but with the competitive college application process on the horizon, self-assuredness is not easily maintained.  In addition, Chemistry is a difficult course to grasp conceptually and can rarely be self-taught. 
My peer tutors, known as Science Scholars, offered their support during this tumultuous time, as did their Honors English teacher who gave up instructional minutes during her class to allow for Chemistry tutorials.  This is one of the beauties of having dedicated colleagues working together in a small learning community.   The more important message gleamed, however, is that my sophomores gradually learned to become more self-directed, more assertive, and more willing to have faith that their choices would lead them to the desired results.  I don’t believe, for most of them, that any of this occurred on a conscious level.   I do know, however, that this transformation did occur because upon my return, they were not the same students.
My sophomores have collectively, in terms of sophistication, matured into juniors.  They no longer have the same attitude typical of a group of underclassmen.  There is an unspoken level of maturity that transcends throughout the classroom.   They can form lab groups in a matter of seconds, gather supplies, and get themselves on task.  They know how to ask probing questions, and even if they are too shy to ask in front of the class, they know how to contact me to get the assistance that they need.  They have developed a newfound level of patience and trust with respect to me, as they now understand that I always have their best interest at heart.  They are no longer “the little kids,” and I now look forward to more effective classroom discussions, laboratory collaboration, and test preparation with my students as a result of this unexpected metamorphosis.

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