Recently on twitter Konrad Glogowski posted this – When kids don’t do well we often think of what they must do to conform … not of what we’re not doing for them. Students are blamed for not wanting to learn, not caring about school, being lazy, these are the reasons they are not successful. I agree with Stephanie Sandifer, we must begin to look at our classroom practices, and begin conversations on how we can change those practices in order to help all students be successful and engaged in their education. Teaching the way we were taught is not acceptable, it just doesn’t get the job done today. I love what I do, I love being in the classroom with students working with them using whatever possible to engage them, trying all the time to help them find relevance in their learning, develop a love of learning. My own children are “grown up”, one has a master’s degree and is an elementary guidance counselor, the other a college senior. I look back at their education, especially high school, and while they received a good education, it could have been more. Maybe some of my thinking is shaped as a result of what I perceived they missed.
Most students move through school, graduate, go on to higher education, vocational school, or enter a trade. But for some the system fails and it is a life altering failure. Our son’s best friend dropped out of high school at the end of their 10th grade year. He failed his 10th grade year, he was one of those students who was labeled as lazy, one who did not care about school. He didn’t fail because he could not do the work, he failed because the work did not interest him. He was not engaged in his learning, did not see the purpose between what was being lectured to him and the world he lived in. He left school with parental permission to work in his family’s business, a business today that is no longer viable. At the age of 22 his future is uncertain, and he feels as though his options are limited. He spends a great deal of time with us, we consider him our third child, and I can tell you it is heartbreaking to see a young man whom you love, just getting by. He is at a time in his life when he should feel the world holds endless possibilities for his future, instead he feels he has few options. I think of him everyday when I am in the classroom working with students, hoping in some small way I can make a difference in the life of a child, hoping I can help one child avoid a future that is not filled with promise. I hear people everyday talk of students who are lazy, students who cannot learn, but I never hear anyone speak of what needs to change in their classroom practice to bridge the gap for those students who may not be the most interested in school. We all have to be reflective in our practice, when students fail we must look at what we have the ability to change, so it doesn’t happen again.