A couple days ago I wrote about a student in my class who was struggling with completing work in my class.  After a breakthrough moment in which I expressed to him the importance of taking risks and not fearing challenges, I wondered if this moment would have lasting effects. Yesterday, I had him again, and while he still had a lot of “Ms. Hertz I _____” moments asking for help and guidance, I could sense a change. 

Sadly, he still struggled to complete the drawing, and I felt crushed.  As I dropped the class off for lunch, M___ came up to me and asked me if he could come back to the classroom to work on his drawing.  I looked at him, and seeing his pleading eyes, I couldn’t say “no.”  We walked back to the lab.  I asked him why he didn’t finish it during class. He replied, “They were too loud.” (note: the class was no louder than usual while working on a project)  I realized that he was sensitive to noise while he worked.  In the relative silence of the empty lab, I sat at my desk while he worked on his drawing.  Every once in a while he would ask me how to do something, and I would tell him which tool might meet his needs.  I didn’t get up once or need to model.  The verbal directions I gave were enough.

As he worked,  I could tell that he was constantly seeking approval.  At one point he even asked me whether his drawing was “right.” I told him that his drawing was HIS. The only way that he could be ‘wrong’ was if the assignment was to draw a pig and he drew a boat.  I told him that when I was a child I had an art teacher who told me that I was the ‘boss’ of my art and that no one could tell me how to draw.  I also explained that not all teachers were like that; that some teachers might say his drawings were wrong, but not to worry about it.  He seemed satisfied.

Here is the final drawing:


  1. Reply

    Wow, that is an amazing drawing. Love the little cat on top of the building. You may have just discovered an artist in the making and perhaps you will be the person that will make a big difference in the life of this child.

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring story and for allowing him to return to your lab to work on his project. Keep up the good work because I believe that great teachers have the power to change the world, one student at a time.

  2. bhsprincipal


    Mary Beth,

    This is exactly why you will be an asset wherever you go. Kids remember the teachers who give them the extra attention. Having been a student who needed some extra attention, I know.

    I am sure you have more details about the student than your followers, but it is clear that he was seeking some special attention from an adult. Thanks for giving it to him. I have no doubt that he went home feeling more secure in the fact that he was valued by a caring teacher. I think we both know that a lot of teachers would have looked right past those pleading eyes.

  3. Reply

    How wonderful that you were able to give him what he needed. Have you tried having him wear headphones that block out the noise during class? This might help him to focus during the regular class time too. I have a few students who like to do this because it helps them to concentrate.

  4. Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. It inspires and refreshes those of us who are similarly committed but not surrounded by others who would have done what you did. This student's experience of the class being "too loud" for him to focus and work is probably more common than many of us realize. Not all kids can articulate the factors that interfere with their success in class.
    We all need to hear and share these stories 🙂 Thank you.

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