Trust the Kids

So the husband and I chat regularly about my faith in people. I want them to do no wrong. I know that sometimes, even when I don’t want them to, they make the wrong decision. I believe this in all parts of my life, but why not with students?

I believe that kids are good. I believe that even the turds that drive me bonkers are good people and are attempting to do their best. I also believe that part of teaching is looking past the failures of both action and character to the little golden nugget inside. This isn’t to say that some days I have to mine a little harder to find that nugget, but I believe it is still there.

I realized in the Letters to Teachers that I am in the minority. It seems that many of my colleagues are looking for ways to punish students and by proxy themselves. Some teachers spend all of their time trying to punish students for perceived misbehavior and miss out on the good things they are doing.

I saw this glimmer when my student teacher wanted to immediately fix the talking problem with a seating chart. Is talking in ELA so bad? Are they still getting work done? A student talked about a teacher who took a photo of students in order of the amount of books they read. He was last even though he read several thousand pages more than the kid in first place. He read fewer books but many more pages. I asked if he said anything because as a teacher, I felt like if a kid actually did the reading, shouldn’t either pages or number of books be a qualifier? Apparently not?

I’m amazed at the amount of times we refuse to bend as teachers. I see myself doing it when I want to give a kid a 0 for a paper turned in weeks late. I want to punish you for annoying me with this paper that SHOULD have been turned in weeks ago. Yet am I grading the work or promptness. On the other hand, the real world doesn’t give us second chances….or does it? Is a second chance always a bad thing or is it indicative of a practice that should be considered from time to time. Using the regimented response that a boss won’t treat you that way goes against most of the bosses I have had.

I’m supposed to be here until 3:10 but need to cut out early, a boss gives me that flexibility.

Student computer crashed but he/she has been waiting at your door since before you arrived to complete the work on time. They get no credit for making accommodations.

I was frustrated because my student teacher couldn’t make the lesson she was supposed to so I improvised, why couldn’t she? The truth is we make do with what we can and the value we put on things will not be an equivalent value to others.

Overwhelmingly students explained in their letters that they really are good kids, they just get bogged down with all they are expected to do. They wished teachers talked more to each other so they wouldn’t end up with loads of homework and then a week off. I believe as teachers we often think the same thing! Ever go to a faculty list with your to do list only to find that you are adding things throughout the meeting you didn’t know you needed to do?


One thought on “Trust the Kids

  1. Kristi Lonheim says:

    It’s a hard balance between giving them the grace to make mistakes and holding them accountable. I love where your heart is. I am sure your students know you care about them, as people.


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