Overcoming Barriers

Submitted by  Angie Compton, Federal Way Public Schools

The beginning was rough: “I hate you! Your smile is ugly! Don’t smile at me! STOP! I SAID DON’T SMILE AT ME!!!”
The present is surprisingly productive: “Miss Angie! Can I work with you today? Can we do more math? I love math!”

Working with M. has been a bit of a roller coaster and getting from point A to point B was not an easy feat. M. is a tough first-grader who has lived through more than people four times his age. When we first met, M. ensured his guard was up. He did not like me and was very vocal about this. Yet, day after day I showed up and gave M. my all. I began to change my teaching style to fit M.’s needs. We went on walks around the school grounds, dug up carrots in the community garden and played math games on my iPad. Each day, M. let his guard down a little more. The next thing I knew, M. was excited to see me when I came to his class, and eager to learn. It took a lot of effort on both our parts, but we made it to a productive state.

image-fwps-acomptonWhile each student is different, they all have the same needs. The biggest of these needs is that of love. If you’re able to show the students that you care day in and day out, the barriers can be broken and the learning can begin. M.’s barrier was the largest I have had to break down. In the end, his ability to love and trust has been expanded…and so has mine.