It was midday of a 3-day camping trip; our sunburnt 6th graders were tasked to climb the local hill one last time for an archery lesson. The targets, in this case a fake deer, had to go up with the group. One of our students, Little J, who struggles with determination in the classroom showed a heroic shift in this new environment. He raised his hand when the challenge of carrying the “deer”, about the same size as him, was presented to the group. Little J made a promise to himself: that he will bring this “beast of burden” all the way up. The group moved ahead with little J and his challenge in tow.
Soon after beginning the trek, Little J’s legs quickly reminded him why nobody else volunteered at first. Each step was harder, heavier, and more painful. Despite a lack of initial desire from the group and J’s visible grimace, his incredible effort quickly brought inspiration to the young men in the group. Not too far into the hike did offers of help began to sprout: “let get me that dude” … “I can take that”. Despite Little J’s sweaty brow, his heavy breathing, and the frequent pauses, he declined each offer.
After innumerous huffs, puffs, and opportunities to quit, J’s heavy legs fulfilled his promise with the deer in tow. The pride illuminated his already red face, and his classmates celebrated. This moment of determination was not a stand-alone event for Little J. He brought this strength with him into the very same classrooms that haunted him until that point. Powering through what is still needed: equations, permutations, etc. He knows now that he can do the difficult. We are excited to see the hill he climbs next.