Our house has 4 houseplants. They all have remained about the same size for as long as I can remember. Most of the plants look old. They have jagged leaf edges. Sometimes the leaves are brownish. I've thought it was amazing that they didn't grow. Also, I thought it amazing that they didn't die.
For some reason, I decided to make an effort to water the plants on a regular basis. Actually, it has been Sundays. Every Sunday, I am watering the four plants. Something very amazing happened about 5 weeks after I started. New Growth. These plants had new shoots growing. I couldn't believe it. The big plant is like a tree and it has a new growth upward. The little table plant regained it's color. Incredible. All I did was give them some regular water and they have done things that I never thought possible.
So after I had been inspecting the new growths for about a week it hit me. Plants are like our students. They need constant attention to grow. They need daily/weekly attention just like my plants need weekly watering. If our students don't get that attention, they often don't grow. I think of just a simple word of encouragement. I think we can "water" our students by showing interest in what they are doing. Also, we can notice when they are absent. I realize that I not only need to make random acts of encouragement, but I need to schedule these acts so that growth can occur. I know the math is important, but it is also important to genuinely care for my students.