My comment to Harold Shaw was too long so it became a Blog post….sorry.
Imagine Hating Your Job This Much at One Foot in Reality, I typed this response:
Rick Dufour puts it like this, “Don’t tell me that all students can learn until you show me what you are doing for the students who are not learning.” Match this with Anthoney Muhammad’s (@newfrontier21) “It is absurd to believe that the people who benefited from the current system of education would be catalysts for its change.” (Transforming School Culture): and you have the problem defined.
The transformation of education has to come from people like me. I represent the cookie cutter educator. I have been training for my profession since I was 4. I have never left the training grounds. All of my experiences as a white, middleclass male with two parents, who understood the “game” of school has lead me to this point. The point where I perpetuate the system I benefited from or the point where I do my absolute best to transform it (regardless of how uncomfortable it gets…and it has). I have choosen to accept the fact that I benefited from the system in spite of the system. But that is not good enough for me. Our system must change. I believe it is changing.
You didn’t offend me. You sound frustrated though. Maybe the change, from where you are, is not moving fast enough. It sounds like “all” students is rhetoric to you.
These very students show up everyday (even sometimes when they are suspended) not because they fear going to jail if they don’t show. (we don’t have truancy officers in our jurisdiction) They come because they have a shred of hope that today will be the day that someone “gets” me, reaches me and teaches me. They show up because they truly do know that it is the one place where the expectations are clear (even if they aren’t differentiated for them). I firmly beleive this. If they didn’t really care they simply would not show up. But they do. And when they get there…it is the same thing and they cuss and say they don’t care.
Einstien stated…Insanity is the product of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Can we change school for this population so that it is a place for these students to thrive. Of course we can. It is going to take a paradigm shift. More money and more educational personnel perpetuating the same cultural “eduocentric” perspective strenghthens the problem instead of the solution. Our schools must become places where the culture of students’ lives are celebrated as is. We can not make our kids into versions of us. “School (the way it is) worked for me so it must work for this kid.” Probably not. Data says otherwise. (dropout rate in Detroit)
One example from years past: John did not come to school on time. He had some challenges at home and as a result mornings were very difficult for him. I asked him what time he could get to school. He thought 9:10 was better than 8:10. Okay, I said, your school day is 9:10-3:20 John. From 2:50-3:20 you will work with me. He, and his mother, were elated. “I didn’t think you could do that.” His mother said. This new schedule lasted 2 weeks and suddenly John began coming to school at 8:30. He graduated and missed very few days after the meeting. It was that simple. No change in work load. No extra classes. No personal support worker. Just a change in timetable to suit his sleeping habits. Did I go off about having a job and getting there on time, getting fired for being late….no….he had heard all that before. My job was not to get him a job. My job was to educate him.
If we don’t show what we are doing for the students that aren’t learning then we are doing nothing. I am not cool with that.
If we don’t also believe that all students can achieve then the alternative is that not all students can achieve. I am not cool with that either.
Thanks for your blog post. I certainly can relate as a school administrator. It seems you are doing just fine at exercising your “inner-catalyst” for school transformation. Keep it up and watch your language or I will have to send you to the Principal’s office. (kidding)