People warned me about J.
Wiry, fast moving, loud.
Performing significantly below grade level.
English language learner.
Single mom, working all the time.
J and an older brother are pretty much raising themselves.
The warnings were pretty accurate.
She is loud. Busy.
At the center of pretty much every off-task event in the classroom.
And yet at the center of all of the naughty
there is a sweetness.
A little girl longing to be loved.
Despite her insistent protestations,
"Don't touch me, Miss. I don't like to be touched."
Again and again and again.
"Don't touch me. I don't like to be touched."
In my afternoon class of 30.
She's pretty rough.
But she shines in my morning ELD group.
She's grown a bunch.
Is writing in English.
Loves graphic novels.
Especially NEW KID.
She stashes a copy behind the bookshelf
so no one else can find it.
Today I had to meet with J.
There had been another incident.
She dropped a book out the window
on purpose yesterday during cleanup.
We talked about safety.
That she could have hurt someone
And about respect.
That that's not how we treat our materials.
And we talked about how much
she has changed this year.
Who she had been.
Who she is now.
"I'm trying Miss.
I'm trying to do better."
I assured her that I knew that.
That change takes time.
"Can I go outside now, Miss?"
I told her she could and then I took a chance.
"Can I give you a hug?"
I expected her to say no, she didn't like to be touched.
Instead, she wrapped her arms around me.
Stayed there for 30 seconds.
I wondered when she had last been hugged.
Today was a good day.