Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Conversation With Boys

The semester has wound down, and projects have been completed by the teens I work with. The final project was to take a few teens to fourth and fifth grade classrooms, do a review of why drinking is a bad idea for teens, and then have the students write letters to this year's crop of graduating seniors asking them to not drink at graduation parties. Last Friday two of the teens came in and we stuffed envelopes and mailed the letters. Since we needed some room to spread out and I got a pizza when we were finished, we set up in the staff lunch room.

It always amuses me, how teens act in situations like this. These two were boys and hard workers. But, two 14 year old boys working with one woman, don't talk much. I would try to start a conversation, they would give minimal answers, and silence would again reign. If this had been girls, you would have heard us out in the hall, but because it was boys, various co-workers kept coming in and being surprised that anyone was in there.

One of the questions I threw out was what they were going to do for the summer. One is going to Seattle to visit family. One is going to summer school. "Why?" asked his friend. "Got a bad grade in lit." "Bet you got an A in math!" "Yes," was the modest reply. At this point I decided to join in with "That's no surprise, you obviously understand math very well."

Of course, he wanted to know how I knew and I answered that I had seen him helping one of the girls in the group with her math a couple of times. "Yeah," he said, "she has a real problem understanding some of the concepts." "What impressed me," I answered, "was that it wasn't just that you understand the math, you also know how to explain it so she can understand it. That's a real skill."

His eyes lit up and he gave a wonderful smile and said, "I've got a skill!"

Later, I gave them their evaluations and the other boy read his, gave a shy smile, and told his friend, "She says I'm willing to work outside my comfort zone!"

It so easy to hold up a mirror that shows a child the best parts of themselves. I wonder why people don't do it more often.


Suzann said...

I couldn't agree more - we focus on deficits - not strengths. Good for you - I love this post. Our children, our future.

Deja Pseu said...

It makes my day that there are people like you working with kids. Really.

Anvilcloud said...

Yes, there's a difference between sexes, but some guys are more garrulous than that. Or so I've heard.

kerrdeLune (cate) said...

I enjoyed this post and so wish my grandson had a someone like you at his school. Every assessment seems to dwell on his weaknesses, and seldom is anything said about his strengths.