The young bloke pictured below’s name is Jimmy (well, it’s not really, but let’s go with a fictitious name for now).
Jimmy is in Year 4 at Kununurra DHS. When Jimmy was in Year 3, he barely wrote a word, and when he did it was virtually illegible. He was always a happy enough kid, but he never really engaged with any teachers, education assistants or AIEO’s.
He does now.
Jimmy’s been working closely with Miss Mel, who’s an EA in the Year 4 area. Miss Mel’s got a great relationship with lots of our kids, and Jimmy’s one such student who will do anything to please her – including 2 full pages of neat writing patterns when he may have settled for 3 or 4 scribbled words last year. On Monday he put his head down and practised his word and letter combinations for a solid 20 minutes, taking care to make sure each one was formed neatly and correctly.
Miss Mel and Jimmy then came to visit me so he could show off his neat work. I told him how genuinely impressed and happy I was to see his work, and then stuck a shiny sticker on his shirt. Jimmy then said, ‘How ’bout a smelly pencil?’ I told Jimmy that smelly pencils don’t come that easily, but I’d do a deal with him. He was allowed to pick one that I’d then blu-tac to my wall. If he came back at the end of the week with a whole week’s worth of good writing, the pencil would be his. We sealed the deal with a handshake and he went on his way.
A week went by and then today Jimmy came bounding up to the office to show me his work. You could barely wipe the smile off his face (in fact, the only time he stopped smiling was to get his photo taken, as many of our indigenous kids tend to do), and Miss Mel was just as proud of him too. I took the pencil down and gave it to him. He immediately removed the cap and took a big, satisfied whiff of cotton candy to celebrate his achievement. And Miss Mel and I couldn’t have been prouder!