I have been able to work in other teachers' classrooms over the past few years. In that time I have witnessed so many amazing things. I have seen teachers addressing some difficult situations like the illness of a student or colleague with such compassion and empathy that brought the class or entire school together. I am able to watch students who might normally exhibit challenging behaviors be completely engaged and even help others.
When I am in classrooms I tend to see students at their best. In some classrooms this isn't anything out of the ordinary because those teachers are doing great things daily and others my appearance means students get to do something cool or new. As I was leaving a classroom today I had the thought do we all see the same situation, behaviors, actions the same way? The simple answer is no, but what I am really getting at are we seeing students' behaviors in a positive light or do we think the worst.
Todd Whitaker uses the example of seeing students in the hallway between classes and poses the questions about how do you treat these students? Do you see the student you have had some difficulties with and ask them for a pass and lecture them if they don't? Do you see the student who has is academically strong and been a pleasure to have in class and say hi, how are you doing? He asks why wouldn't we treat both students like the better student? What are the consequences of engaging in the behaviors of the first example?
I pose this question because I have head some teachers say - all students can learn, and yet find it acceptable to blame students when they fail. "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink" This shifts the responsibility of what happens in your learning environment solely onto the shoulders of an adolescent. Another example is looking at a class when grading using the bell curve. This means if you have 5 A students it is okay to also have 5 students Fail. Yes that's right you are saying it is okay for students to fail even before you begin teaching them. Another example is classroom envy. I have recently heard other teachers say, well I could do that if I had her class, her students are awesome. A couple points to make here - All kids are awesome if we provide them opportunity to be. I have alluded to this with my classroom encounters above. Second it undermines the efforts the teacher has undertaken to create a classroom culture that emphasizes community. It allows us to write off those students who challenge us, who don't conform or do school the way we think it should be done. It allows us an excuse to not have to put in the work to reach all students and help them achieve their awesomeness. Oh and did I mention all students are awesome! We just need to find out what we need to do to unlock their awesomeness.
I do realize the ideas above are easier to say than live up to especially in my new role as a tech integrator. While in the classroom I was guilty of many of these offenses especially early in my career. I also realize some of my interactions stem from my own insecurities and trying to cover up my lack of knowledge or mastery, or wanting to hide behind the badge of authority instead of earning the respect of my students. I tore down relationships instead of building them up. I needed to read the books by Todd Whitaker and Dave Burgess, learn about Genius Hour and so many other inspirational educational movements to change my thinking from what I had been taught and had reinforced. I share this segment because as I mentioned it easy to preach and not live up to, but more importantly we need to share the message with our colleagues. We should not allow another day to go by where a teacher hasn't been exposed to the messages of #KidsDeserveIt or students hear positive messages like #YouMatter. I fell into the track of bad practices at times because that was the prevailing message around me. We cannot allow that message to continue. We must champion change for all of our students and teachers to reform education into what it should really focus on and that is relationships! Sorry for the tangent.
I am not exactly sure how to turn this into a Twitter Chat, but I have some scenarios that I wonder how others would view them. I gave an example of a student in the hallway provided by Todd Whitaker. I also saw a student get up from their desk and come over to another desk and a conversation occurred. This made me think Does the teacher see what I see? Did she see a student getting out of her desk without permission to socialize or did she see a student move to the other student to offer assistance? Which did she see? Which do you see? What impacts the way we see this interaction and how can we move towards seeing things in a more positive light?
Do You See What I See Questions