Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Acceptance is the most difficult part of being a teacher. It was the most shocking thing about my job when I first started. I never realized I would have students unconcerned about their assignments and success in school, parents who didn't insist in the best from their children, or most shockingly of all, I didn't understand I would work with teachers satisfied with the status quo for themselves as educators.

Accepting those realities was harsh, and still is, even after nearly 2 decades in this business.

As a student myself, I came from a home where education was valued; school was my job while I was there, and I was expected to do whatever it took to be successful. Many of my students, however, come from very different situations. Their parents are under-educated themselves, and do not either see the importance of education, or are unable to adequately impart that critical measure to their children. Homework, right or wrong, is a part of success in school. It doesn't have to be curriculum driven, but the simple valuing of reading, quest of knowledge, and honorable pursuits of time after school go a long way in student success. Homes without newspapers, internet, magazines, or books, send a subliminal message to children. Homes where parents do not interact with their children, never asking "what did you learn today?" or "how was school?" or "let me look over your homework" create a divide between the home environment and the school establishment. Homes where television and video games are the dinner time norm do not create relationships and conversations.

Students learn to accept less than their personal best, learn to take the easy way out, when parents accept less from them. Some students respond to intense teacher intervention or peer pressure to be successful at school. Others find internal motivation from deep within. Unfortunately though, others are unreachable, choosing to coast through school, never striving for a higher rung on the ladder, never doing beyond what they are forced to do. Despite the best efforts of every person in contact with that child, the inner forces that drive that student are not there.

Parents and students are but a small part of the equation though. The most disturbing to me are other educators who take the easy way out. Certainly, we all do this on occasion. I am not talking about those excusable indiscretions of human laziness. I am talking about the teachers who constantly show students they are not THE priority in the classroom. Teachers who are unprepared for class... teachers who do not return papers promptly corrected.... teachers who do not want to learn and grow in their profession.... teachers who coast their way from the teachers' lounge to their room as the bell rings, lingering for a longer lunch or break, instead of interacting with students in the hallways... teachers who never make a parent phone call, insisting it won't help anyway....

I wonder why WE in our profession, the dedicated teachers, allow THEM to taint our schools? Are we backed into a corner by an outdated system that does not encourage excellence? Or are we simply lazy, unwilling to make those confrontational conversations?

Accepting less than your own personal best is not an option, whether you are the parent, student or teacher. Strive for excellence in all you do. Not only will you be rewarded for your efforts, but you might just inspire someone else.

1 comment:

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