(originally posted 4/24/10)
There is a difference between going in to school every day to teach students who should appreciate us and don’t and going in each day to teach students who don’t appreciate education but have the potential to.
The difference is in the emotional weight of the perspective. The difference is in the expectations.
When we perceive ourselves as going in every day to teach students who SHOULD appreciate an education, SHOULD understand the power inherent in knowledge, SHOULD see the value of the work that develops skills, SHOULD thank us for choosing this career and working hard at it, we are placing OUR values and expectations on our students. When, invariably, our low-achieving students fail to live up to those expectations there is a great deal of hurt, disappointment and anger.
So why do they fail? Because we are teaching the students we think that we SHOULD have….rather than teaching the students we DO have.
Frankly, the students we think that we SHOULD have do not exist. I don’t care if you teach in an urban, rural or suburban setting. It doesn’t matter if you teach 40 kids in a class or 14. If we don’t get to know these students that we have right now, we do not know whom we are teaching.
What I often hear sounds something like this….
These kids don’t know the meaning of work.
These kids don’t do homework.
And so on.
What those folks (and I myself have been one) are REALLY saying is this….
These kids don’t know the meaning of work….AND THEY SHOULD…(like the kids I used to have, like last year’s group, like when I first started teaching, like I did, like my own children would etc. etc.)
These kids don’t do homework…AND THEY SHOULD…(like they would if they were smarter, like they would if their parents gave a damn, like they would if they had had me for a teacher last year etc.)
One of the hardest things to do as a teacher is to teach the students we have…not the ones we wish we had.
But unless we stop comparing our students to who we think that they should be, we cannot truly get to know, love and teach the students that we have.
I know that you may not agree with me….but think back to my original post …
This is an idea I think it is worthwhile to consider. Who knows how powerful it could be? Sometimes it takes just a little tiny turn of the handle to open the door…….
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