Celebrate the Small Victories

By Katie Doyle — Working with kids is tough, especially when those kids are sixth graders in a required after school program.

I spend my afternoons listening to a lot of whining.

“I don’t want to be here.” 
“I hate City Year.” 
“Why do we have to stay until six?” 
“When is this class over?” 
“Is it snack time yet?” 
“Can I go home now?”
“I hate reading!” 

The list goes on.

The whining is inescapably tied to poor behavior.  By the time 4:30 hits, my students are tired, worn out, sick of school, and want to go home and take a break from academics.  I can’t blame them – I’ve been in school for nine hours by that point and still have two more to go.  We’re all tired.  Some days, we all want to go home and sleep it off.

Listening to complaining students who refuse to do their work everyday can get really tiring.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember why I’m there.  Moments when I’m feeling especially worn down, underwater, and frustrated are the moments when it’s most important to celebrate the small victories.

One of my Bridge students told another Corps Member that I’m her hero.  Hearing that on a particularly bad day brightened my whole mood and made all of the struggles worth it.

A student on my focus list thanked me for helping him with reading because he did better on the last test.  Unprompted gratitude from middle school students is a rare and beautiful thing.  That was a moment I felt like I was really making a difference, at least to that one.

Seeing a student who has been struggling with sitting quietly go right to his seat and start reading is a small victory in the battle of educating.  Seeing my literacy students excited to go to the book fair and ASK for silent reading time makes me inexplicably happy.

Education is a tough field.  Some days are really rough and you just have to go home and forget about it.  That’s why it’s so important to celebrate the small victories.  I probably won’t make a difference to every student at the school… so I have to remember that those few students I do reach are totally worth it.

2 Responses to “Celebrate the Small Victories”

  1. 1 Sally Doyle December 17, 2012 at 9:15 am

    This is what it is all about, Katie. You won’t reach EVERY one, but you will make an incredible difference in the lives of SOME. So proud of you!


  2. 2 billhenk December 18, 2012 at 9:27 am

    What you’re reporting might only seem like small victories, Katie, but they’re actually big victories in disguise. Trust me, there is more respect, love, and gratitude for you among the kids you serve than you could ever imagine. And you’re helping far more of them than you’ll ever know — by inspiring their attendance, imiproving their behavior, and promoting their academic achievement. Although the impact you’re having might fly largely under the radar, it is no less profound.


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