This photo was taken earlier this week and, although it might not look all that abnormal to you, I was struck dumb by the way this student was behaving. Full on double-take.
I was doing my typical walk-around and observation of my classroom during work time. I use this time to ask students questions about their artwork and give suggestions and guidance. Some students are still sketching in their sketchbooks and others have moved on to work on their projects. Tables are covered in anything from markers, to paint, to recycled egg cartons. When I walked passed this student on the floor, I stopped and took a moment to watch him work. He actually turned around and asked what I was doing (apparently I was hovering). Let's call this little guy "David".
David goes back to his work and carefully chooses colors and adds them meticulously to his paper. He even starts to experiment with some color mixing on his paint palette. I was amazed at his concentration and the amount of effort he was putting in to his painting.
But let me give you some background on our friend, David. He is in the 2nd grade so I have had him since he was in kindergarten. From day 1 he was a handful. If he wasn't off wandering around in a random corner of the classroom, he was spinning around on the floor and distracting anyone sitting around him. Getting him to sit still and work for more than 3 minutes at a time was close to impossible. And he could care less about being reprimanded. He knew he wasn't following directions, and he didn't care. Every teacher has had a David.
I was stumped. How was I supposed to get this kid to settle down and focus when he clearly couldn't care less about what we were doing in class? I'm going to be honest, I had mostly given up. When you have 25 students in a classroom, sometimes you let one crawl around in the corner so that you can give the other 24 a decent lesson.
Poor David was left out because I had given up on getting him interested in what we were going.
And then we started TAB. And let me tell you, it's like we were suddenly speaking the same language for the first time in three years. He is not only focused on his projects, but is deeply invested in his process. He is devouring projects like he was starving for an opportunity to stretch his creative muscles.
We still have to occasional issue now and then (especially when I ask them to sit and listen to me for longer than five minutes). Bu these instances are much easier to take now that I have seen his full potential.
Without TAB, I would have never known what David's capability was. These are the students that make it all worth it!