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These words were spoken at the 2011 PLC Summit I attended in Arizona last week. “They didn’t choose their genetic pool”. “They couldn’t say I want two college-educated parents who love me, care for me, and make education my priority.”

I realized after hearing this statement, that many times, I get frustrated with my students about things over which they have no control. When they come to school without school supplies, their parent doesn’t sign a form,or misses a scheduled appointment, or has made the child stay home to babysit, again. These are things that the student can not control, but yet, year after year, my frustration is placed on a child, who is probably just as frustrated as I am! How many times has the child walked in the day after parent-teacher conferences, and I’ve said, “Your mother scheduled an appointment and didn’t come” The child stands there wide-eyed, not knowing how to reply. Maybe they know why, maybe they don’t,but that’s not the issue.

We need to work around the parents who are not supportive, the ones who just don’t have the time. We need to tell our children, “You do you.” “You do what you need to do to succeed.” Let’s not hold them accountable for the mistakes, or neglect, of their parents and guardians. Let’s not make them bear the weight of their parents’ transgressions. Why say to a child who is late every day, “You’re late again.” Knowing the only way the child can get to school is if their parent drives them.

So, I’m taking a new outlook, and it began yesterday. I have a student who is out every Monday. I would fuss at him every Tuesday about the work he had to make up or didn’t understand.

”Well”, I would say sternly, you need to be here on Mondays.”

He was in school yesterday and instead of a “Glad you could make it”, I smiled and said, “I am so glad that you are able to be here today.” A smile lit up his face and he said, sincerely, “So, am I.” The next time he’s out, I will work with him and help him catch up. Am I a” bad” teacher? I don’t think so, but I’m certainly not the best I can be. I’m learning though, and I’m willing to take a good, hard, look in the mirror, and correct my mistakes.

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Comment by Lisa Mims on March 6, 2011 at 4:21pm
I felt the same way when I heard it. You are quite welcome!
Comment by jl8910 on March 3, 2011 at 11:15pm

It's hard to remember that our students are a product of their circumstances and that sometimes behavior is nothing more than a coping skill. It's especially hard when those outside teaching think that all teachers have to do is present content to a waiting, willing, captive audience. They are blind to the reality of children who do not live lives of privilege.

 

Your post really spoke to me tonight. Thank you for writing this very significant reminder.

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