2017-12-11

By Eleni Dres, Senior AmeriCorps on the MFS Investment Management team serving with Hennigan K-8 School 

Eleni's story is just one of the ways our AmeriCorps members support students. Check out other ways: 

  • Sandy used poetry to instill confidence in her students; 
  • Molly used art to get students excited about learning,
  • Shared Latina identity and culture helped Geryel's students connect with her and know they could succeed; 
  • And Tom helped a student learn percentages through a mutual love of basketball

Last year, one of my students, Frankie*, had low confidence. He had every ability to do math work on grade level but didn't feel that he could do it. In his words, he was stupid, it didn't matter, so why should he care because he would never get to the point where he could do it. He wouldn't do homework and lacked motivation. 

One day when we were sitting in the hallway, I noticed a poster that said, "If you believe in yourself, you can and you will." So I started a tradition with him: every day, I made him tap that poster when he first walked into the classroom. I also started validating and affirming all of his work: "Great job!" and "I saw how much work you put into that." At the same time, I worked with him on specific math strategies. I introduced him to the acronym "RUDE": Read the problem, underline important words, draw a picture, make an equation. I'd say, "Just be RUDE about it," and he loved that.  

Thanks to the poster, affirmative words from me, and new tools and strategies, his confidence grew significantly. It got to the point where he was raising his hand of his own accord and asking for extra homework to make up for things he missed in the beginning of the year. I had another student who struggled with confidence, and Frankie started coaching him on it, saying "We can do this man, you can do this. What does it mean to you? We can do this, let's tap it. And do it. We're a team." 

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