A few weeks ago, I shared the video "Bring Your A Game" a 22 minute film directed by Mario Van Peebles that address the state of African American students and graduation. I decided today would be the day after I shared with my students the current grade-book. I was so frustrated with myself, the education system, them and parents. I mean, my grades are all calculated based on the work you do in class for goodness sake. IN CLASS! What am I doing wrong? Am I helping or hurting by allowing them one week to do an assignment? Am feeding their dependency by saying ok we can't go on until you do these tasks from one week or two weeks ago?
The problem with this is the real world isn't going to cater to the needs of my students this way. I know the additional support is needed. I know many don't and won't do any homework so I rarely assign it. It seems to work better if they complete tasks in class and there is support from peers as well as myself or the support teacher (if one is assigned) to ensure success. I WANT THEM TO BE SUCCESSFUL!!
The conversations were different each class period as we watched the film and then discussed our feelings about it. We talked about what new information they learned and the moments where they had an epiphany. I noticed when the conversation turned to sports and truths shared that most athletics won't end up playing pro ball the students interpreted this as me saying they weren't going to be successful. They were all clinging to their extra backpack with changing clothes for practice after school. They were unable to hear the positive. No one wanted to own the team or be the PR woman/man. Why because this required more than just a basic ability to read and write. My guys don't even consider the fact they need reading skills to learn the play book.
It saddens me that our students are led to believe they will become doctors and lawyers. One students asked why she needed to know history or science. She was adamant that she wouldn't use any of the information to become a doctor *crickets*. I love this profession but I'm starting to feel my back bending with the weight of my job and the work that is required to get students who are 3 years behind on level. Can it be done? Yes, of course but it takes time for them to catch up.
I was asked every period why jails and prisons were being constructed based on 3rd and 4th grade reading scores. And even when I explained the trickle down effect: not a good reader, writer, lacking basic math skills equated to the jobs that weren't going to yield them Diddy Dirty Money, they seemed to hear again you won't succeed. No matter how many other options I tossed out where they could earn enough income to travel and be their own boss, it was the wrong response from me.
Where are the answers? It certainly doesn't lie with superman since he took off his cape many years ago. Money isn't the answer or they would pay me and my fellow educators more. Parents aren't totally to blame. When are the students going to take responsibility for themselves? Should they be held accountable?
I wear the hat of a teacher!