Ada, Robert and her class on the 1st day of school
September means back to school and for Teach for Romania, it means celebrating the end of our first school year, in which 18 motivated young future leaders embarked on the challenge of teaching in some of Romania's most challenging schools. Looking back on our first year ,we would like to share one story that represents the type of transformational change that we have seen in many of our classrooms.
Robert is a kindergarten student from Ferentari, a poor neighborhood in Bucharest. He is being raised by his grandparents, especially his grandmother. His father abandoned him before his birth and his mother has since moved to Italy. His grandmother told Robert that his father died saving another child from drowning.
When he entered the classroom, Robert was larger and sharper than the other children, but also very egocentric and individualistic. He wanted to be the only one speaking, even above the teacher! He would always ask me "Ms. Ada, if you had to choose one of us children to go to an island with, who would you take?" He would expect me to choose him. Often he would say, in front of all the other children, that he wanted to leave our classroom, because he felt that he was too smart and well-behaved than the others.
Slowly, I began to challenge the children with tasks that would develop behaviors related to responsibility and care for others. Since Robert was very competitive, he of course began to do good deeds so that he would be the student with the most positive behaviors demonstrated.
By the second semester, Robert had begun to share all his materials with his classmates. He began to help his classmates during recess with topics such as cause and effect or adding by 6.
He demonstrated his “I care” attitude during the last few days of school when he asked my permission to go up on our classroom podium to make an announcement:
“Dear classmates, I have observed the last days that you have gone crazy because of the recent warm weather. Ms. Ada is struggling to perform team activities with us so that school will be more interesting, but you refuse to behave. We need a president, a classroom leader, a boss who can calm down the classroom. During recess, you will find a posted piece of paper where you can register your candidacy and a box in which to cast your votes. Friday I will announce our new president.”
This month, we will start the school year with 39 teachers, each of which generate this type of transformational change, every single day. Please join us!