I Too am That Teacher
A few months ago, this post http://missnightmutters.com/2014/11/dear-parent-about-that-kid.html describing “that kid” went viral. It was picked up by journalists, bloggers, and the general public alike. It was largely met with compassion and understanding. The story described resonated with thousands of people. If you haven’t read the blog post, take a minute and read it.
While the entire piece resonates with me and is a reflection of my teaching reality for 15 years, one line stood out very clearly for me: “You see I worry all the time. About ALL of them.” I read the blog when it originally appeared in November. But, I was reminded about the post because of a number of events which have taken place in Alberta over the past few weeks.
I Too am That Teacher
I believe that all students who come into our classrooms want to learn, even THOSE kids. The funny thing is, they don’t always want to learn what we are teaching. That doesn’t mean we should give up on them. That doesn’t mean that, just because they didn’t complete our homework, they don’t want to be successful. It doesn’t mean they are lazy or incapable. It means they are human.
I don’t give zeros. A zero is an assessment of behaviour not of learning or student understanding – end of story. That doesn’t mean I don’t have high standards for my students – feel free to ask any of my former students that question. It means that I respect them and am willing to have a conversation about the tasks I assign to them. It means that I recognize that sometimes, more often than not, it is really hard to be a kid. It means that I am willing to admit that sometimes, my course is not the most important thing going on in their life. It also means that I don’t give up on them (see above).
I allow students to redo their assignments for full grades. I believe that learning is a process and does not stop when the test/quiz/essay/project is complete. I believe, as Guskey (1994) does, that the best assessment of learning is a current one. If a student can demonstrate they understand the concepts we covered in January, but it is now May, does that mean it is any less valid? Does that mean we shouldn’t accept it? Remember, I don’t give up!
I provide multiple means of representation and utilize a variety of teaching methods. You know what, sometimes, using a lecture is a valid teaching method. As is inquiry based learning, problem based learning, project based learning, online learning, blended learning, flipped learning, experiential learning, service learning, etc. The point is that not everything works all the time for every student. We need to utilize a variety of approaches as we have a variety of students in our classes. Do you want to know why there is variation in marks between the same course taught in the same school? Students are all different – end of story. As such, we need to use different assessments and teaching methods to help them find success.
I care about all my students. That doesn’t mean I like being around them everyday – ever spend an entire day with kids? It can be mentally and physically exhausting. But that doesn’t mean I quit on them because it can also be uplifting. And it definitely doesn’t mean that when they are “good” and “behave,” they receive preferential treatment. It means I do my best to ensure they all receive what they need, when they need it, whether it is in regards to assessing their work or helping them manage their lives. If they need a bit of a push, they get it. If they need a softer approach they get it. If they need a shoulder to cry on, they have it.
But, I’m not unique. There are thousands of teachers like me. We care about ALL of our students and are concerned about their learning.
People can disagree with me and tell me I’m wrong or can say that I promote “edubabble.” Quite frankly, I’m not concerned with that – I’m not looking for their approval. I am more concerned about the learning that goes on in and out of my classroom. I’m more concerned with ensuring that everything I do is done to benefit the students in my room.
So, to ALL THOSE TEACHERS, well done! Keep it up! You are making a significant difference in the lives of your students – end of story!
Have a great day,