Casting a wider net...

Today was one of those days, as a teacher, that I am reminded the impact one can have on the life of another. Two years ago, I had a very special group of 8th graders. I had looped with many of them so a deeper bond was formed with them. During their 8th grade year, there were many who were struggling. We formed a special group, College Bound Math Club. They signed up to stay at school until 7 pm. It wasn't homework time, but rather extra instruction and opportunities to retake tests. Most of all it was about building community.

This community has lasted over two years. I still have high school students come down the my school once a week for math help. Today we studied for their math final. We joked around and talked about the things they are learning (and how I already taught them these things when they were in the 8th grade). I felt like I was being pulled back two years and my heart was swelling. I love these students. Watching them talk and teaching each other is everything that we worked on, building a math community.

I look at my students now and am mourning that loss. These students have no desire to build a community, one that they can use to their benefit over the next four years. I don't know how to make it clear to them that they are each other's best resource. This is one of my goals. Help them to see.

If I ruled the education universe, these would be my decrees:

1) Forget about Standardized Testing...if we test all children the same, we will surely fail.

2) Diversify our teaching options...Our population is getting more diverse and yet our focus is narrower. I would like to see classes that reach students, rather than the same old stuff...

3) Don't wait until high school before we start letting children fail. When they get to the middle grades, they should be held accountable for the work they do (and don't do)...At this time, we let them go forward under the illusion that it doesn't count and them Blam-O, high school comes and they fail. If we teach curriculum that is appropriate and diverse, then kids should be held accountable for this knowledge.

4) Bring back the trades, art, music, sports and all the things that kids love and that help them to be successful. If we want well-rounded adults, then we must have well-rounded children.

5) Get families involved. If we want children to have a supportive environment, then we must help families help and support their children.

6) Extend the school year so knowledge is not lost. Reduce class size and let teachers do what they do best, TEACH!

I am sure there are more, but let's say for now those are my six directives.

There are a lot of skilled and talented teachers and a lot of students that want to learn, but unless we grow and change, we will produce adults who are apathetic and potentially lacking in skills. We have narrowed our focus even though our population's diversity has broadened...let's cast a wider net and see what we catch!

Comments

  1. What do you think happened to (student) culture and society in 2 years that brought on this apathy? BTW - apathy is not the norm in schools here in our small town. Helping others, and being part of the greater "village", is nurtured from an early age.

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