I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

She's Scared to Ask

Last quarter, as I conferred one on one with Christine (not her real name), she confided in me that she's scared to ask for help.

On her own, she wrote a new goal for fourth quarter: Ask for help when I don't understand.

This past Friday, she hadn't turned in an in-class assignment. I went to her and asked, "Do you need help on the assignment you haven't yet turned in?"

Her reply was a head nod.

I then asked her, "Do you remember what your goal for fourth quarter is?"

She softly replied, "Ask for help."

I asked her to take it out so I can help her with it, and help her get closer to achieving her goal.

Penciled in - right on the assignment - she'd written, "I'm still scared to ask for help."

I looked her in the eye and reiterated, "I'm here to help."


I'm so glad she was able to tell me her thoughts in our meeting at the end of third quarter. What great feedback for me!! I was aware that it was something to celebrate. However, I still confided in a coworker how meeting with Christine was upsetting to me, and that I didn't know what to do to fix it or help her. How can she be scared of me? ME? I feel as if I'm very compassionate in class. I feel as if I praise so many little things students are doing so we have a positive relationship. I feel as if I'm approachable and allow time for students to talk with me. How could she be scared of ME? My coworker tried to assure me. She, too, was scared (maybe that wasn't the exact word for her) to ask for help from any teacher. She, too, didn't participate. She, too, did her work, did well, and then went on with her day.

Yet here it is again. That feeling that I can't do enough. That feeling that I need to do much more.

I will continue to sit and chat with each child. I will continue to make great eye contact, smile, and praise for efforts, word choice, patience, etc. Yet it looks like I'll always need to do more.

I'm reaching out to my PLN today - what can I do to help students who are scared to ask for help?