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Ramblings of an Old Man
Why Teachers Teach
By Bob Robinson

“They cheered.”


“They cheered,” said the teacher. “When they heard you were subbing today, the whole class cheered. They didn’t even know they’d be seeing you.” She grinned when she saw the expression on my face. Confused? Uh… yeah!

The students had entered the room and I had to focus on settling them down long enough to learn what their teacher expected of them.

I just didn’t get it. Still don’t. These are some of the same kids, figuratively speaking of course, who will rush up to me for a hug, but in the After School Program will want to work with anyone but me…

“Why are you here?” “I’m here to learn,” the kindergartner said. “Do you want to work with me?” “No.” “But you know you are here to learn, right?” “Yes.” So I assigned one of our Edison student volunteers to read with him. “I don’t want to read!” he told her a few minutes later. “I want to do puzzles.”

“Don’t want to read? I’ll get Mr. Robinson… he’ll…”

“Okay. I’ll read.”

Working with different personalities is challenging enough. Working with different personalities in different age groups reminds me of the Mission Impossible series my kids used to watch. “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is… this message will self-destruct in…”

Except it never self-destructs. It simply gets replaced with the next challenge. These kids can be frustrating, but at the same time, oh so precious. There is one child I’ve worked with – on and off – since he was in kindergarten; he’s in the third grade now.

He’s smart. Academics are not the problem. Behavior is. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had to lean on him for pushing, hitting, getting into a student’s face. We allowed him into the After School Program to see if we could improve his behavior in a different setting, but eventually had to remove him. And I always had to be the “bad” guy.

To this day, he’s the first to grin and wrap his arms around me when he sees me. His grin is infectious; he really is a sweet kid when he wants to be. I like him. Most times. Confusing? Yep.

The After School Program has been an eye-opener. It has also been one of the most rewarding things I think I’ve done in my life. Over the past eight months, we’ve worked with over 70 students, from kindergarten through sixth grade. Some were there simply to do their homework until mom or dad got off work. Most, however, needed varying degrees of help.

We were usually short on tutors, but through juggling here and there, some bouncing back and forth, and improving our organizational approach, all students who needed help got it.

We have many ASP success stories. There is one student, however, who has been a standout for his teachers, his parents, our After School Program and – most importantly – himself. Recently from Africa, he could barely speak English last fall and he was struggling in school. He has arrived at ASP daily since September. By the end of the first and second quarters, he had made Merit Roll. His English is much improved.

And this last quarter he made the Honor Roll!

This is why teachers teach, and grumpy old men like me try to help.

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