The Best Thing

Luke* hated writing. He would be the first to give up and would then behave in a way that distracted other students from their learning and require intervention from the teacher.

Working with Luke to develop his skill as a writer was slow and painstaking work. In the beginning, he would tell me his ideas and I would madly try and keep up with him and get them down on to the page. After writing a paragraph, we would read back over his work. It took some convincing for him to believe it was his work; after all I was the one that had done all of the ‘writing’. “But they’re your ideas” I would tell him. “I didn’t come up with any of that.

"Writing" by Rubin Starset. Used under a Creative Commons Licence 2.0

“Writing” by Rubin Starset. Used under a Creative Commons Licence 2.0

As his self confidence increased, we would alternate. Luke would start off and I would write down his ideas. After three sentences we would then swap the pen and he would take over the task of writing. Three sentences became two, and then two became one. I would sit with him as he went about his writing. Keeping him on task and reminding him that he could do it.

We used planning templates to record and organise his ideas and to remind him of what he needed to do next. We would use the computer to take the focus away from handwriting and instead focus on completion. Occasionally he would slip back and we’d need to go back a few steps to get him back on track again.

I can’t remember when I happened but I remember Luke handing me a piece of published writing. It was a persuasive piece that he typed it up on the computer. I remember seeing the pride that he had in himself; the smile that was beaming from his face. Here was a boy that less than six months ago was so disengaged and wouldn’t write a sentence handing me a page of writing that he had written and published himself.

I looked down at his work and also noticed that I had goosebumps down my arm. I could feel my eyes begin to water. I remember thinking to myself how lucky I am to be in this profession they call teaching. That I get to do this…. and get paid for doing it.

It is the moments like these that are the best thing about my job.

*Not his real name.

This post is the fourth in a series as part of the #youredustory challenge. For more information visit their website.


8 thoughts on “The Best Thing

  1. Margo Edgar

    Reading about *Luke, caused me to reflect on the *Lukes I have worked with over the years. Knowing that you have created in someone; a desire to improve, learn, persist, get better, because you took the time to get to know them, build a relationship and meet their needs is truly the best part of the job. Thank you for reminding me why we do what we do.

    1. Mr Duncan Post author

      I remember in my first year of teaching stressing about curriculum and assessment and wondering how I was going to get it all done when I had so many issues with behaviour management in my class. Thanks to some great mentors and advice from those around me, I learned the hard way the value of forming relationships and how the effort you put in at the beginning of the year in getting to know your students and build those bonds then pays off for you later.

      As I’ve moved into leadership roles at various schools, I try and remember this when working with staff. The need to form those relationships and take the time to get to know people gives you that capital to draw upon when you want to push and extend them that extra bit further.

      In short; “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.”

      Thanks Margo for your comment and reminding us all about the importance of building those relationships.

    1. Mr Duncan Post author

      Thanks Celia – I still keep in touch with *Luke’s teacher. Hopefully the blogging challenge will give me the chance to share an update with you all later in the year.


  2. PonderingDan

    That was such an inspiring story incorporating a new teaching strategy I had never thought of before. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Mr Duncan Post author

      Hi Dan – I’m pleased my story provided you with a new strategy to add your ‘magic bag’ when trying to motivate writers. As a connected educator, I love the breadth of knowledge and experience that I have access to and can draw upon when I ‘get stuck’ and need some advice on how to move next when faced with a professional challenge.

      I admire you as a new teacher for entering the online space, sharing your stories and connecting with others when so many with years more experience than you still shy away from doing so. I look forward to seeing your professional growth and look forward to reading more of your story.


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