It just breaks my heart when I think about one of my classes. Their behavior is awful. I have been counseled over and over again – it’s not your fault Jill; it is the combination of personalities. Well, it may not be my fault but it is my responsibility.
Their behavior is bad (relatively speaking of course, remember I teach in Camelot); they are rude to each other and to me. Individually, they are great kids. I love each of them as individuals – collectively, not so much. This statement – “collectively, not so much” – is not true. If I did not love them, would I worry about this so much?
What is most discouraging is that they are hiding their lack of understanding. They are using their behavior to mask deficiencies and to distract me and others from the real problems they face. It is like they are jumping up and down, waving, screaming “look at me, look at me” so that we won’t notice they are struggling to learn. It is too risky to ask a question and reveal publically that you just don’t know something or anything.
In contrast, in my other classes, they regularly say “is it okay that I’m at Level 0? I don’t know any of this and need help.” It will be blurted out “Help! I’m at Level 1 and want to be at Level 3. Who understands this and will help me?” Literally, two or three other kids will get up and begin to coach. There is no snickering; no mocking looks are exchanged. The culture of our community says we all learn together; if one struggles, we all struggle. We are walking this path together.
I feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I have an hour of let’s hide in plain sight, tear each other down, if I can’t learn this no one will, followed immediately by an hour of let’s learn together, build each other up, leave no man behind.
Which classroom would be your pick if you were a student?
Let’s apply this question and the situation to our own work. What if the teacher described above was a school administrator and the classes were two different schools? Which school would be your pick if you could choose?
Would you choose to teach in a school where the culture is “it is too risky to ask questions and reveal that I am struggling with an area of my teaching?”
Or, would you choose the school where the culture says “we all learn together; if one struggles, we all struggle; we are walking this path together?”
Aren’t there both schools here in Camelot today? Which school are you in now? Are you walking the path with others or hiding in plain sight? Where do you want to be? No move needed; great! What can be done to help you move if you want to move?