Ruby Knight, 2013 Cohort (English)

Voices - 22 September 2014

Ruby is in her final year of the programme, teaching English at Alfriston College. She has a BA in Spanish, with a minor in English, as well as a BSc in Economics and Geography. 

 

Ahakoa he iti,
He Pounamu

Although it is small, it is of great significance


I knew last year would be a challenge when upon walking into one of my classes I saw a group of boys in white shirts at the back of the room with their feet on the desks, chairs kicked back and their only response to my glance being “what?”

Whilst navigating the teacher-student relationship with this group brought a huge range of challenges, it also turned out to be hugely rewarding. At the start of the year one particular boy in the group was determined that he could not do anything and his only response to any question was an instant “I don’t know.” I mention that these boys wore white shirts because they were senior students in a junior English class repeating the year and this particular boy had not gained any of his English credits the previous year.

In the midst of my struggle I decided to pull out the trump card and call his mother. She was amazingly helpful and we built a strong relationship based on a mutual desire to see this boy achieve. By keeping in conversation with both him and his mum, negotiating homework tasks and goals between the three of us, we saw him begin to gain confidence and take small steps towards achieving.

In his first NCEA assessment for the year, after failing his first attempt the previous year, he gained an Excellence and he had never looked so pleased with himself. He shared his work with other teachers and accepted my congratulations in front of the class. From then on, instead of shying away from his learning, he began asking what he could do to improve and he knew that I would not accept his excuses as he had already demonstrated his ability to excel at something he “couldn’t do”.

At the end of the year, he had passed all his assessments and expressed his desire to carry on with English in 2014. In the last week of term I was sitting in my classroom and he poked his head in and said he had something for me. As I approached, he shoved a box of favourites in my direction and mumbled something about him and his mum saying thanks for the year. It was a small gesture but after the weeks and months of worry, frustration, success and satisfaction experienced throughout his learning journey I can truly say,

 

Ahakoa he iti,
He Pounamu

Although it is small, it is of great significance