I have a confession. I am not a super teacher. I can’t save everyone. I hate that. I hate that this year I started to blame the kids who are failing for their failures. I hate that I found so many reasons for why I can’t save everyone. I hate that I started to label kids. I hate that I blamed everything I could find to place distance between the failures and my responsibility. I have blamed the lack of minutes in a period for why I could not get to everyone. I have started to blame larger class sizes for the failures. I hate that I blamed having to cover more material and be more “rigorous” for the failures. I blamed the kids habits. I blamed their parents. I damn near blamed anything that could be placed between their failing and my responsibility for it.
That’s not like me…because…I have another confession…I think I am a super teacher, but super teachers don’t let this happen. In the last few years there have been chinks in my super armor that have begun to appear…and one in particular has been this distance that I have been placing between kids who are falling behind and my ego. It’s a newly formed habit that looking back now, started to appear with the stress on standardization and data. The more I have looked at “data,” the more I have found wrong with the kids. The more we have focused on data, grades, and standardization, the less I have focused on what is actually troubling the kid…and the reason they are failing. I have replaced talking with the student and asking questions, with implementing modifications that are aimed at the targeted data areas, but not sure if they meet the need that created the data point in the first place. Knowing what the kid has trouble with and why they have trouble with it are two different things.
Today I had the kids answer a few questions…one was “What is one thing you’d wish Mr. Bogush would do differently in the second quarter?” One of my kids who is falling behind gave an answer that made my super teacher shield drop to the ground. He simply said, “Talk to me.”
I printed off of all of my class rosters and placed a check next to each kid that I “talked to” today. Go ahead try it. If you do nothing else today, print off a class list and place a check next to each kid that you talked to today. Not just a question and answer back and forth, but a few sentences either in or outside of class. I wonder what that data would show over time. I bet that the kids who aren’t doing so well would be the same kids missing checks next to their names on more than one occasion.
“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys.” – Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, British Columbia, Canada
I can’t save everyone, but I can sure as hell find time to talk to a few more.