ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 41, November 2, 2007
I've noticed a significant change in Ben's approach to his school work lately. Yesterday, for example, we were discussing a page in the novel we’re reading, and I had just offered a few insights about something on the page, when I noticed Ben was writing something in his book. I asked him what he was writing, and he said -- quietly, as if he was almost embarrassed to admit it -- that he was writing down what I had said. What made it particularly noteworthy was that no other student had bothered to do that -- only Ben. I thought it was a promising sign of a new, more serious and industrious student emerging from the old laid-back, blasé Ben.
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Just when I was getting a bit discouraged about the progress of the 9th grade collaborative projects, I was astounded this morning to discover how many good steps forward the groups have actually taken. Each group has made progress in designing different parts of their project, and this morning, as I watched carefully, they worked surprisingly well in detailing some plans for future work. Even when they had disagreements, they seemed able to calm down and listen to each other's ideas. It was impressive. In my long career, I don't know that I've ever witnessed such mature, intelligent cooperation among adolescents. It's definitely encouraging.