George and the Golden Moment
Last year George (not his real name) was in my Year 8 Science class but I only saw him for one or two hours a fortnight because he has ‘learning difficulties’ (translation: he doesn’t learn the same way as the rest of the kiddos in the class) so he spends a lot of time with a teacher aide. George, being ‘on the spectrum', always laughs and lowers his eyes whenever I speak to him (even to say "Hi!" which I still do, even though he’s not in any of my classes this year).
Today I found out thirty seconds before the bell rang that a class needed to be babysat. I was given a stack of blank papers and a stack of sheets with map symbols on them. The kids were to ‘make their own map’.
When I arrived at the classroom (with my lunch in my hand cos I'd been sewing sparkly stuffs with kiddos at lunchtime) George was there with his teacher aide, and she miraculously turned my shoot-from-the-hip lesson into something manageable for him. Towards the end of the hour, I mooched up to George and looked in his eyes (yeah, I’m so intrusive) and told him what a fabulous map he’d drawn. He grinned, repeating my words to himself, and looked down. So I tried again. “George, what did you think of the gymnastics performance at skool assembly the other day? I saw your sister on stage and I thought she was fabulous! You have such a great sister!”
He looked me in the eyes and said,” YES I DO!!!” and I swear I felt some fairy dust sprinkled on my head. Because after school, George’s teacher aide came to find me and said that it was the first time ever that he’d responded like that.