Saturday, September 14, 2013

They'll learn, just be the role model they need.

I recently saw a post on a LinkedIn group page asking "Have you ever met a student that didn't want to learn?" I ignored clicking on the discussion for several days... I wasn't ready to read the disappointment that I knew would follow such a question. It's not that I'm cynical in regards to teachers (I am one!), it's just that I know there are a lot teachers out there that are simply getting a paycheck. That aren't in the profession for the kids, and show no understanding to what the outside world might look like for them.

I've seen so many crazy things in my 8 years of teaching in Fairbanks. The hard conditions translate to harsh realities for many people (adults and kids) up here when temps can get so low that they become life threatening. And with all of the kids that come into my room daily, with all of their stories some of which you wouldn't wish on anyone, I've never met a single kiddo that didn't want to learn. That didn't want to be cared for in a school setting.

Now, don't get me wrong. There are some students out there that are tougher to get through to. Some who have lost all faith in adults for whatever reason. Some that are simply at school to survive another day, and know nothing more than to act out for someone to give them attention. These kiddos are the ones that cause distractions, that end up getting kicked out of classrooms, and spend most of their time in In-School Suspension. These are the kiddos that need to have someone show them they care beyond a superficial level. And in order for this to happen, an entire school needs to be ready to help. Because if even one teacher starts writing them off, and forcing the kid out of the classrooms with referral upon referral, then there will never be the time to reach the kiddo to help build the sense of self-worth that is needed to pull them out.

Even at the elementary school level, I've seen teachers, counselors and principals write kids off. Kids that still have more than a chance, because deep down I know that they want to be helped. That they want to learn and grow as people. They just simply have been told by the people around them that they can't. And these kids have then given up.

So, I challenge you to make a stand and help all kids by understanding that even in the most disrespectful encounters they simply have learned to have their walls up. They've learned a behavior that we can work together to fix. If you better the attitude you bring each day, and act as the positive role models they need, then we can fix the craziness around us all.

I know that I became a teacher to change the world, by being a positive role model to kids. I didn't choose this career because I love math, and the politics of education. I did it because the most important people in my life as a kid were the amazing adults that taught and coached me. I'm doing this to say thank you to all of them for helping build the man I am today.