Saturday, November 11, 2006
Top and Bottom
Everyone should teach the top students and the bottom students, if not every term, at least every few years. When we don't do this we get jaded and forget what the other half is like. I know this because I taught special education for a few years and then followed this with quite a few years of only teaching bottom level courses. The math supervisor at that time didn't like me and this was my "punishment". I fooled him, though. I like the bottom kids. Those are the ones that make me feel like I accomplished something when they succeed. There is nothing like that feeling I get when a kid who has almost given up on ever being able to master a concept gets it, and then graduates high school. Anyways, let me get back to the point of this post. I am now deemed a good teacher by the administration and have been teaching advanced placement calculus for over 10 years. The kids in these classes are wonderful. They are bright, and motivated. They do homework, ask questions and argue over every point on an exam. I love teaching them as much as I love teaching the kids that struggle. I find that teachers that only teach these top kids forget that the ones on the bottom exist. They express an intolerance toward people that cannot perform what we deem to be ordinary activities (like making change when the computer register is not working.) The ones who teach only the kids at the bottom start to think everyone is like that and start to lose faith in the future of our country. When they see a kid that actually can do any work, they think he is a genius, when he is probably just an average student. The best way to appreciate and help students is to actually teach all of them--the good students and the bad ones.