Every Student is Worth a Challenge

Sarah - Clayton, Georgia
Entered on November 7, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I have always been a self-driven student that tries to do my best in everything I do. Teachers didn’t have to motivate me or offer me an award for me to do my work. I am going to learn the material no matter how it is presented to me.

Being a self motivated learner I was naturally put in classrooms with other kids like me, who were going to be successful. One year I had a schedule where there was only one period that I could fit U.S. History. My first few weeks in the class were a struggle for the teacher. The kids in this class were unmotivated; they didn’t care about learning, and their last intentions were to learn anything about U.S. History. It was the kids that most people would expect to see in jail or the police blotter after we graduated. Thankfully I had a teacher, who actually cared about EVERY student in the class learning the material. He had a passion for teaching and was willing to do anything to get his students to learn, but he was still discouraged. He tried notes, making flow-charts and posters, group projects, student teaching, class discussions and every other idea of how to get students to learn, but the students still didn’t care. They weren’t trying, and were still making bad grades. Fortunately my teacher was not going to give up; he knew these kids could learn. So, one day in class my teacher picked a student who rarely paid attention and challenged him. My teacher said that if he could beat me on the next test we would have a class party in honor of him. At first the kid thought it was an impossible task and ignored the offer, but my teacher kept encouraging him and telling him he could do it and the kid started getting motivated. He started paying attention and trying to learn. On review day he participated and studied. The next day the whole class sat in anticipation as our tests were graded. The teacher announced that I made a 95 and the other student an 85. While he didn’t beat me it was still one of the best test grades he had ever made on anything. The other students were all of a sudden motivated. If this kid almost beat me, so could they. Competition started spreading throughout the room with students challenging others that they could beat them on the next test. It was a classroom game and the ultimate win was to beat the regular highest scoring kid in the class.

My teacher knew the kids weren’t stupid; he just had to find what motivated these particular students. For some of these kids, that class would be one of their biggest successes. I believe that if more teachers truly cared about every student learning and would encourage and motivate the kids that are usually pushed to the side, then our education system would be much more successful.