Saturday, September 22, 2007

Success Story 3


Some of the teachers in my school have a very elitist attitude. If Einstein had been in their class and failed to hand in a homework assignment or only got a 75 on a regents exam, they would have written him off as a loser. If Bill Gates did not make it through AP calculus, they would have been sure he was doomed to a life of sweeping floors at Burger King.

High school is not always an indicator of success in later life. One kid I know who really excelled in high school dropped out of college and is now delivering pizza to make his rent money. This is sad and a problem but, not one I think I can do much about. Another, a girl who was not much of a student in high school is now in medical school. Her teachers in high school never thought she would be more than a house wife and a greeter in Walmart. I hope none of these teachers ever need her expertise to help them.

I know that one of the most important things I do is try to build self confidence in my students. I don't judge. If a kid tells me he wants to be an engineer, but is failing math A, I just stress all he needs to accomplish before he can follow his dream. As a high school teacher, it is not my job to discourage and to put ceilings on what my students can accomplish. I realize that some might never be able to reach the stars they are shooting for but some might just need to grow a little taller to reach the top.

6 comments:

Jose said...

Believe it or not, this entry makes you a good teacher ;-) ...

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

If some kids shoot for the stars and only make it to the treetops, well, at least they've gone farther than they would have if they hadn't shot at all.

You're there, of course, to help them aim high. And you do!

Catherine Johnson said...

I know that one of the most important things I do is try to build self confidence in my students. I don't judge. If a kid tells me he wants to be an engineer, but is failing math A, I just stress all he needs to accomplish before he can follow his dream. As a high school teacher, it is not my job to discourage and to put ceilings on what my students can accomplish. I realize that some might never be able to reach the stars they are shooting for but some might just need to grow a little taller to reach the top.

Brilliant!

I love this!

And I don't understand why this isn't the normal, standard, expected attitude amongst educators.

We almost never hear this attitude here, in my affluent school district.

I always say that the middle school motto could be, "Your child. Not the little genius you thought he was, eh?"

Catherine Johnson said...

Believe it or not, this entry makes you a good teacher ;-) ...

Well, I don't quite agree with that!

Being able to teach math takes a little more "domain knowledge" than just having managed to notice, over the course of a life, that one can't predict a 16 year old's future -- or that, even if one can, one ought not.

Still, I agree overall.

This attitude, in my view, ought to be ingrained in anyone who teaches, including volunteer teachers, parent teachers, etc.

Catherine Johnson said...

I also like the way you've incorporated realism.

You're not mindlessly cheerleading; you're not exhorting failing students to surprise everyone by growing up to become an engineer.

But you're not using reality to clobber students, either.

Pissed Off said...

Thank you all for your kind words.