I saw his name on my roll sheets and groaned. See, he’d spent a semester with me the year before explaining how he was switching schools and talking about yearbook and how much he wanted to be on staff. BUT it was a lot of talk. A lot. In fact, it was about ten (million) times more talk than actual work. On top of that he’d earned a trip to the alternative campus. And his writing…I don’t have the words to explain.
So, yeah, I saw his name and groaned. I even took out my shiny new red pen (thank you, Office Depot) and crossed his name off the list then started to take it to the guidance office to say “No way.”
But as I started out the door I remembered my decision to give any kid who wanted to try staff, who agreed to the contract terms including after school lab time, a chance.
Day 1: He shows up to class excited and ready to work. I tell him he can stay “on probation.”
Day 2: He asks to switch to newspaper. (much internal groaning commenced, but smile stayed firmly in place as I said, “suuuuure,” all the while thinking yeah, right.)
Day 3: He asks to take photos also because he kind of stinks at writing. (acknowledging the problem is the first step to fixing the problem)
Day 10: He decides photography won’t work. It takes too much time outside of class.
Day 15: He turns in first draft. On time.
Day 16: He frowns when I say open the draft so we can talk. But goes to work right away looking for professional examples of stories like the one he’s trying to write.
Days 17-40: New draft every other day. Editor works with him, encouraging, cheering him on, telling him to get buys and stop talking.
10 drafts in he submits a publishable story. It’s awesome. We add two drafts to our presets for him, but he gets it done. We high five and I tell him he’s earned the prize for most revisions ever, an award as impressive in my mind as best story ever.
Day 60: Next story in. Another multi-draft work. Another great job.
Day 77: He finishes his page in the magazine before anyone else.
He’s done more work than this, but these are the high points. These are the points that retaught me the lesson about expectations and the importance of “want to.”
It’s been a great year. I’m proud of him. I’m proud of all of my kids. And I’m ready for a break!
Two days and counting.