A ‘shabby’ farewell card from a student

On seeing my post yesterday, a student teacher who had just finished his practicum shared with me the following personal story, which once again illustrates the impact that teachers who connect with their students as real persons can make:

“I have a similar experience in the TP I’ve just finished! I came to know the students without any knowledge of how they usually behaved. There was a student who always couldn’t hand in his homework on time. He needed to submit his work separately for the teacher to check but despite repeated handbook “notes” to his parents there was no obvious improvement. And he tended to shout and say silly things out in class (he was arranged to sit in one of the corners in the classroom on his own).

At first, I asked if he could promise submitting all his work on time the next day and keep quiet in class. However, after a few days (or less!) he fell back into old patterns. Then I invited him to have lunch together and got to know him better (and other teachers told me he was very happy to be invited – he kept telling others). It turned out that it was somehow related to his family, and their support is rather weak. He didn’t like English either. I could not say now English is his favourite subject or he always behaved in the “expected” way, but we were so glad to see his significant and continuous progress.

On the 2nd last day, this student wrote me a card he made (just using the paper from the school’s single line book + the badge from the school he cut from notices, etc + some simple pictures he drew, but it is already good enough). And I wrote back to him and said I’ll always support him, giving this to him together with a print out of the photo taken during our lunch. From other teachers’ observations, his writing in the card and the photo we took on the last day, we all witnessed how his behaviour improved and he treasured my “gift”….plus my colleague told me some students cried after they knew that I’d go.

I’d never imagined that I’d got more than 10 farewell notes / cards students made and wrote (and I replied). Some teachers said I was too nice to students and wasn’t stern enough. And sometimes I wondered if I should resort to scolding, but I’m glad that I didn’t as I can now say confidently that students (esp those nowadays) need more love and support, and my job is not to make them feel afraid of me or my subject, but to build positive relationships with them and see them as real persons. This is definitely my privilege! How blessed I am! ^^”

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