Monday, December 17, 2012


I am going to merge some of my religious views into this, as they are part of what informs this.  If that offends, I suppose that is the nature of our society, I won't apologize, but will give the heads up ahead of time.

We were talking today and in #flipclass today about what do you do for those students that just won't try, that no matter how charming and winsome you are, no matter how stinking interesting the material is, or how amazingly open sandbox the project they are to be working on is....that no matter what, they just don't work, they just sit there.

On my commute home with my lovely bride, I had one of my on the way home rants about a couple of my students who refuse to take responsibility.  I'll sit down next to them, help them out for 10 minutes in the middle of class and then they take 20 minutes to work one problem, because they need to hit the snack machine or check their messages...whatever.  There is very little in life that drives me more nuts than not taking responsibility... Or, to the other point, they "take responsibility", admitting that they aren't working/haven't worked, and taking pride in it.

I think every teacher everywhere has those students....some of it is the nature of just people, some of it is teenagers in my case, etc.

As teachers, what happens of course is that you only have so much time in a class period, and additionally, only so much emotional reserves.  Naturally, we want to help those that want help, those that seem more deserving, that have done their end and yet need some help.  It's natural to help the kid with their hand up.  Part of it is probably the subconscious desire to see that someone got the stuff we were teaching...that's always a boost.  As opposed to the student who never gets it, who never even tries to get it.... Spending an inordinate amount of time on the 2% while the other 98% might need help and actually cares just seems illogical.

But here's my issue, I'm a follower of Jesus, a pretty good teacher regardless of your views of Christianity.  And He pursued....leave the 99 to go after the one...

As with much of actual Christian theology, it turns the logical, the practical upside down, refutes the logic of the world.

We try to pull in CEOs and efficiency experts into schools (and other arenas) with the idea that we can focus on the big things, straighten out the whole system.  There are vast arrays of massive national and state initiatives, from Common Core, PARCC, NGSS, Race to the Top, etc, that are the next iteration of NCLB.

But programs won't help anymore than religious law helps.  What works is relationships, what works is a teacher, doggedly pursuing that student that gets left by the wayside.

That takes love, which no matter how good Common Core is, it doesn't have.  It takes doing the illogical...not the rational, "research-based" method and sitting down with that student over and over and over.  Pursue them as though you love them...because if we don't, why are we teaching?  To help the best and the brightest? They need help too, and there are thoughts in here about that too.  But think for the next day or week or month or school year about who needs you, not about who wants you, who needs the education, not just who wants it.

Students that want it often get it....but often those who need it, don't.

There are tons of reasons for, economic, etc etc...but when it comes down to it, I hope to pursue those who need it.  I don't want to just help those who want to excel to excel, but to inspire those who don't even know they need to excel to do so.  I'm not very good at it yet, but I'm thinking about it all the time, trying harder and harder every day, reminding myself when I don't, to pursue, to run go after the one...

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