There’s a teachers’ meeting for Years 7 & 8 so those kids stayed home today. That meant I had much of my day free. Hurray! I worked on the office décor – typing signs and materials and posting them, per the request of my principal. I also spent 30 minutes with a Year 8 student.
No, he wasn’t supposed to be at school. Last year he had the dubious distinction of being the last in his class. I told him this year would be different. He lives next door to me and is related to my family in some way. He’s a sweet, gentle, funny boy. But he’s been left behind, academically.
This morning he came to drop off food for his younger sister. He stopped by the office because he knew I was there. I think he’s in the midst of a 13 year old teacher crush and was less interested in learning than just hanging out with someone he likes, who pays attention to him. But he was willing to work.
We worked on phonics with flash cards. I read him a story in English and helped him read it back. That wasn’t working so well so I got a book in Samoan. First go around, not so good. Second time, much better. I saw the light in his eyes when he started to connect that letters and sounds and words were all connected. And could form a story.
This is why I became a teacher in 1972. It’s why I agreed to be a teacher in Peace Corps in 2010. To see a child learn. The third time, he got it. Not perfect, but he was starting to sound out words.
We were interrupted when his older brother came to the door looking for him. Minutes later as I was walking downstairs, I heard the unmistakable sound of wood on flesh. A sound I hear all too often. I looked over toward his house and saw that he was being beaten. I assume it was because he wasn’t doing his chores. Because he was learning to read.