I have a 14-year-old student with mental retardation who is learning to count by 5’s. Despite all of our practice and strategies, he hasn’t been able to get past 15 for the past month. Some days, it feels like a lost cause. Some days I think he’s not trying. And today, I am just tired.
But as we sat down for math class today, he called me over for “a surprise.” He counted a handful of nickels on his own all the way to 45 cents. I was floored.
And then he looks at my shyly and says, “Ms. Shyu, I’ve been practicing. I practiced all weekend when I was herding sheep. I wouldn’t stop counting until I got all the sheep in. I didn’t let myself stop practicing until I got home with the sheep.”
All I could do then, was give him a high-five.