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Comments

Char

I had a thought that had occurred to me today. Its more of a question and a suggestion . Why don't we really see our administrators outside of there offices and lunch? I know over type this could sound slightly rude however i assure you i mean nothing by it. however i mean it would be nice to see our administrators outside of there office and in the classroom learning with us and about us. I know you have a large amount of paper work and there is the construction going on. Just a suggestion that i was thinking about today =)

Jeanette Johnson

It's a great question, and a great suggestion...I'm pretty sure all of us in administration would agree. In fact, what you suggest remains one of my greatest unrealized goals... and one I'll keep working on until I get there. Being in the classrooms, and out and about with the students and staff, is ALWAYS the best part of my day, whenever I get there!

The Gilch

Still chewing on this one. I think this is either a very fine line, or a very large, yet blurry one. Especially in education, since every microsecond, what we do or say can have mind blowing ramifications. We all remember the adult who encouraged us and made us think, and we all remember the one who did something that had a detrimental affect on who or what we have become. What if our intentions were pure and good and we believe in our heart that we have done a good thing, but the effect on a student or colleague is negative? Or, what if our intentions were neutral, or even negative, but the consequence on others is good? I only raise this question, because it makes me think of reading instruction in high school. We know that it needs to happen, and it needs to be solid and quality instruction. But I find that when observing the behavior of students who are near the end of their HS careers and still struggling readers, sometimes, their numbers are not reflective of their ability, but of their conditioned response to reading, and therefore, reading instruction. Or, one could insert the subject of choice- math, writing, etc. Kids who have had it drilled into their heads that they are struggling readers (writers, arithmeticians), and ergo, "defective," may automatically shut down. I had a phenomenal experience in this area today, and one that was treacherous. Upon introducing students to lit circles for the first time, one student automatically shut down. S/he swore and shouted and lost his/her temper, refusing to hear if there were alternatives available. Said student took a book and worksheet and headed to the office without looking back, even though I, and his/her group, begged him/her to stay. Similarly, later in the day, another student immediately shut down, refusing to work with a group. We talked, s/he listened. I asked for a trial period, and a conference at a later time, and s/he agreed, and ended up enjoying the experience more than anyone. For both, this was obviously a deeply personal experience and they anticipated it would be painfully unpleasant. With both, my intentions were good, and the instruction needed. I can tell each what they did right or wrong, but at the end of the day, I still feel like an epic failure because one student left unhappy, and s/he likely feels the same way, further deepening the cycle.

Jeanette Johnson

Thanks for sharing the example, and your reflection on it. You raise a very good point about how a student's self-perception as it relates to a particular subject may strongly influence how s/he reacts to that subject in both present and future settings.

We're dealing with human beings, not widgets or dollars or deadlines (which is also why I think the "business model" to accountability in education is fundamentally flawed, but that's another topic others are far more eloquent about than I...), and so despite our best intentions, there will be days where things don't proceed as we'd wish, and we feel like "epic failures". I'm not an expert on this, but I do think that the key then remains our ability to NEVER FORGET the essential humanness (and, thus, fallibility) of both ourselves and those we teach and work with. If we can do that, we can recognize the less-than-productive choices of both ourselves and others for what they are, not allow those moments to define ourselves or others, and come back the next day, ready to try again. Sharing our own fallibility with the students we've felt like failures with, too, can go a long way toward building the productive relationships necessary for learning to occur.

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