I love my unruly students. They are not sheep. Did they make me change my teaching strategies, inquiry methods, lesson plans, curricular focus, soft skill mentoring, student-teacher relationships, parental involvement, laboratory practicum (… and the list goes on)? YES. They were the ones that made me a better teacher. They may not of known what they wanted (although some did) but they knew what they did NOT want. When will we stop searching for elusive answers from data-mined scores taken at one point under specific circumstances and go to the source … the students? Unruly students are unruly because they are missing something … guidance, focus, connections, positive adult role models, recognition, metacognition, “sense of belonging” … love. I believe any teacher can help even the most difficult student through time, communication, mutual respect, and personal investment. The problem is that these qualities are not tested, scored, assessed, and/or documented. So many try to move on without meeting the basic needs of the student. It’s off to the next test.
I am not going to “silver line” my pre-service education. I was taught the idyllic basics, in a controlled environment, under hand-chosen mentors but then reality hit me like a ton of bricks from the first day of my first position. To be honest, if they had shown me what the teaching profession was actually going to entail, I probably would not have continued. I believe it is an integral part of the duties of pre-service education personnel to prepare, support, and assist pre-service teachers acquire a “clear” concept of what classrooms may be like AND how to successfully travel these waters. The problem with the high teacher turnover goes back to what many have said (and will say) … support, or lack thereof … from several venues (parental, administrative, community, political, etc.).
I am “poor” in some aspects but also “good” and “proficient” in many others. What would happen if I was assessed on my uber-weaknesses, and never my talents? My dislikes instead of my interests? My in differences instead of my passions? I would be a failure. Standardizing differentiation is not testable. When we ask what we really want and what we ultimately hope for our students, I would bet it’s not a percentile rank. At least, I would hope not. Yet, I have been wrong before, and maybe that’s the ultimate problem. There is no room for failure.