I must always begin one of these Educational discussions with the preface that I am still learning... and I am nowhere near experienced enough to make such bold claims with such confidence.
However, here I am writing about stuff that's just weighing on my mind from my Full Internship in my last semester.
I have been so blessed to have been given this opportunity to teach my last semester at this smaller, more rural school. I truly have some of the best students around.
But each one is unique, and it has taken work to get them to open up.
To tell the truth, most of them are scarred. I know that seems heavy and even a bit of a hyperbole, but I think it is true.
Nothing can be more scarring or damaging to a student and their self-worth, than a bad teacher.
And I believe that. Because it happened to me.
My 8th grade English teacher proudly exclaimed to me and my whole class that we couldn't make it in high school and we weren't going to college. And she happily told me that I would never do good in English.
English is now what I am teaching, by the way.
Now please don't get me wrong, I was an AWFUL student in her class. I wasn't super disrespectful or anything, but I sure wasn't the most attentive or best student either.
I was the type of student that would say "yes ma'am" but also crack jokes all hour long.
So I completely understand her frustration and anger with our class. I do. I have now known what it's like to lose control of a classroom and be so fed up that you just want to give everyone F's and laugh maniacally while doing so.
But, as teachers, we cannot let this happen. And by letting students know that we DO value their opinion and we DO believe they can pass and learn and we DO mean it when we say we will do whatever it takes to help them learn the material and pass the class.
Students can see the hypocrisy of some teachers. They see the hypocrisy when a teacher stressed passing and learning, but then only hands out worksheets. They see the hypocrisy when a teacher has positive posters all over the room, but never greets their students at the door. They notice it.
Which is why we have to be genuine. We must be. Because students don't want to try for a teacher who doesn't try themselves.
My dad is a pastor, and he has often used this analogy in describing alcoholic parents. I think it is very applicable to what I have been discussing:
Kids aren't going to listen to you, saying not to drink and that it's bad for you, when you are leaning against the fridge with a Bud Light in your hand.