Recently at Richmond High, coaches worked with the students in the ELD4 (English Language Development) class on a reflective essay about a Life-Changing Event. Many kids jumped right in with stories about a sports team win or the death of a beloved relative or pet, but others had a hard time thinking of a significant event they wanted to write about. Veteran coach April Kutger was paired with a student she has worked with before, but he seemed reluctant to get started. After the coaching session, April shared this with me. Her patience and willingness to not give up on her student resulted in the uncovering of a great topic.
In April’s words:
“You asked me to email you about why my experience with Jose (name has been changed) was exciting today.
When Jose came in, he had not seen the assignment. So I had him read it. When I asked him if he had any ideas about something he could write about, he said, "No." When I asked him if anything important had ever happened to him, he said, "No." When I asked him if anyone he knew had died, he said, "No." "Did you ever win a prize?" "No." "Was there anyone in your life who had a big impact on you?" "No." "You can't think of anything that's ever had an effect on your life?" "No." "Come on, Marco, there must be something!"
Jose got a little brother last October 30th. The floodgates opened. He described how the baby looked, how much he weighed, that he never cried. He talked about how he takes care of the baby, what the baby can do, playing peek-a-boo, and on and on. He said his mother said the baby gave her a new life.
Then we talked about how he felt about having a baby brother. He said, "I felt like a million dollars!" He said he had become more caring after taking care of his brother. He said he felt sweet.
There was more. He basically wrote his paper - although I was taking the notes while he talked.
It was so much fun. I kidded him about how he said he didn't have anything to write about and then he came up with a beautiful story and wonderful descriptions. He said he would write his story tonight and translate it for his mother.
One of those great coaching days.”
Site Coordinator, Richmond High School