Two days ago I was at the Co Op with a friend. We were waiting in line at the back office so that she could cash a cheque, and I was waiting for her. It was after school, so there were quite a number of students buying their after-school pop and chips, admiring the electronics, or just hanging around.
Coming from behind was a familiar voice. It was one of my students. He was reading a sign that was posted on the wall announcing shortened Co Op hours on Victoria Day. The sign was written in both Inuktitut (his first language) and English. He was reading the English translation.
I listened. He struggled as much as one might expect a grade 5 (especially one reading in a language that he really only started learning not too long ago) to struggle with some of the words, but he sounded everything out phonetically and made out every last syllable. Then he went on to read more signs.
Yesterday morning, he was the first in the class. I thought it was a good moment to commend him on his “extracurricular” reading, seeing as there was no one else around to tease him or berate him and thus, deprive him of a sense of achievement. I gave him a Montréal Canadiens pencil I’d stashed away for moments like these.
There is no emoticon that can capture the size of the smile on his face – he was so proud. It was a genuine smile and, especially coming from one of my more resistant students, it was awesome.