Monday, July 02, 2007
Laid up on the couch I have watched A LOT of TV and movies- yesterday out of bordom I went through Pay Per View and got "Freedom Writers". It is a teacher movie and it was fantastic! My thoughts were of hopelessness- how do we make a difference for kids who grow up with all strikes against them? A very naive young teacher steps in and decides that she is going to win these kids for hope. It was so much like my life- not that I am that inspiring to all my students or that I have made that great of an impact but that going to work you hear, "these kids can't read that", "these kids won't do homework", "I am just babysitting these kids". I got the chance to do staff development this year and I flat out said that I didn't want to hear "these kids" anywhere on campus- they are "our kids" and until we believe in our kids they will succeed only to our expectations! Is it naive to believe that all kids can learn? NO!!! I think it takes some naive optimism to walk into a gang ridden neighborhood where cars are stolen, people are shot, and kids cuss you out for fun. Once you get past the exterior you see, they are just kids. They are insecure, moldable, seeking acceptance, and they do want to succeed! The movie showed something wonderful about teaching- it showed that you have to be willing to make a fool out of yourself, you try to relate but the fact is that you are the enemy in some ways because you are older and authority. That is a natural state of being. If you try for complete authority you lose them, if you try for friendship, you lose them. Teachers aren't meant to be "cool", they are meant to be trusted, they should be the ridiculous cheerleader in kids lives, they should call kids out when they aren't doing what they should, and they should expect more from the kids than any voices that tell them they can't. I think I am great at making a fool out of myself, I have fun with my kids, I teach in ways that most kids can learn but I need to work on setting higher expectations. I want my kids to pass, sometimes that means that I am too easy on them. A new summer project- pray for God to change my mindset so that I can create students who know they can do the hard things!