George Lucas Educational Foundation
Student Engagement

Making Connections One Student at a Time

July 15, 2015 Updated July 14, 2015

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it." -- Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

Today I saw Mikey. He was one of the tough ones for me. When Mikey was in my class, he struggled to engage. As he became more disruptive, we had to implement a behavioral plan which included removing him from the classroom to a quiet space where he could calm down and eventually process the situation with an aide. Mikey was with me for 2nd and 3rd grade and I worried about him daily. He was so far from where he needed to be in order to succeed academically and socially. I just couldn't imagine how he would make it through.

There was one moment, though, that made me see possibilities and honestly I'd forgotten about it until I talked with Mikey today. During a morning meeting, I explained tying flies using thread, synthetic materials, hooks, and a vise. I also shared how to cast a fly rod as a way of introducing some basic ideas around simple machines (levers and gears).

The very first time I handed this boy a fly rod, I could see something in his eye. He cast the flyline with such grace and calmness -- it was like meditation for him as we watched the tip of his fly line glide through the air ever so slowly towards his target. We connected around this one thing that we both enjoyed. From that point on, his experience in my classroom changed. He began the very gradual process of letting his guard down, trusting others more, and engaging with his learning. Today I learned that at the age of 14 Mikey is doing awesome -- he fly fishes and even ties his own fishing flies!

“All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren't noticing which makes you see something that isn't even visible.” -- Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

What special ways have you connected with a student? Share your story.

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we've preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own.

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