I have a student named “Larry.” One great thing about Larry is that he is my best actor and never fails to have enthusiasm when performing for others. However, Larry is a different kind of student and not every teacher understands him. The truth about Larry is that he can be directed to do amazing things if you go about it the right way, but if you go about it the wrong way you may have a lot of problems. Larry is not a bad kid, a bully, or unintelligent. He is actually quite smart and creative, but different than most kids.
The other day, Larry walked into our class pretty upset. He had just come from the principal’s office because the teacher of the previous class doesn’t really understand Larry. Since it is gym class, Larry has to run a lot of laps because of his behavior. Now, I am not defending Larry’s behavior in gym. It’s true that he kind of runs his mouth a little too much. What I am addressing is how Larry is dealt with so that he can be as successful as possible.
As Larry entered the room it was clear that he was upset. He had been sent to the prinicipal’s office again and this time I think that Mr. Baker really laid into him. I knew Larry’s situation and I saw it as an opportunity to take Larry to a new level.
That day we were telling a story about a girl that couldn’t talk. She went to Anchorage, AK to Santa’s elves in order to get the secret medicine. As the girl travelled to different elves, none of them had the secret medicine and they kept telling her that different elves had it. It was during the storytelling process that I saw a window for Larry. The students kept suggesting names for the different elves. All quarter long, Larry had tried to suggest Peter Potter for every character, but I refused it. I was waiting for the perfect time for Peter Potter to enter one of our stories. As we were getting the names of the elves, I knew that Larry would suggest Peter Potter and I knew that this was the perfect day.
Well, the girl in the story finally went to the last elf. What was his name? Peter Potter, the most intelligent, wise, rich, and good looking elf of all. You should have seen Larry glow with pride that his answer was chosen and that he would get to act as Peter Potter. It was quite the performance!
It was at that moment that I realized what an opportunity we have. We can change a person’s day in an instant with our stories. It is hard to deny that children of all ages have memories from their school days. Children will remember the good and the bad. Of course, they may not remember certain teachers at all. I am not sure which is worse, the bad or not being remembered at all. If we can sieze the moments of students like Larry, we don’t need to worry about making bad memories or being forgotten. We will be a part of countless good memories with our students. I can’t think of a better way to spend a career.