As a book study we are reading Motivating Black Males to Achieve by Baruti Kafele. Why black males you may ask? Because they are the lowest achieving demographic in the US based on research- you can look it up or argue. Irrelevant. What I’d like to share with respect to teaching all students is this list of questions that I found very convicting:
(Once again, this is from Kafele’s book- but I am paraphrasing to generalize for all students, not just black males).
- Do I see myself as the number- one determinant of my students’ success or failure?
- Am I passionate about my role as a teacher?
- Have I defined my purpose for teaching?
- Do I treat the teaching of my students as a mission?
- Do I have a vision for what I expect my students to achieve?
- Do I set incremental and long-range goals for my students?
- Do I plan each day thoroughly, with a view towards success of all my students?
- Do I have high expectations and standards for my students and believe that my students will reach them?
Very quickly, I will speedily respond to these questions. (
- Do I see myself as the number-one determinant of my students’ success or failure? No, although I should, but then again, I don’t know if I should. I feel like sometimes things are out of my control- like administration, curriculum, parenting. I think I could do a better job of taking more responsibility and at a minimum, I should feel confident that my students are receiving the best possible education- that they couldn’t want for a better teacher. But then that sounds prideful, and I know there are much much wiser, more patient, more organized, more everything teachers out there. I think this is a point I should think about more.
- Am I passionate about my role as a teacher? Yes, but gosh, some days I am just so jaded. I need to get over that and remember why I love being a teacher- not just teaching my content. I think this ties into the next question.
- Have I defined my purpose for teaching? Um, kind of. I feel like I’m just figuring out what it means (completely) to be a teacher. What I thought in college, even just last year (1st year teaching) is drastically different from what I think now. At NCTM I was making a list of my principles for teaching and actually this summer I put together three goals for this year (I wish I hadn’t just remembered this) . Anyway, the 3 goals were: Problem Solving, Math Fact Fluency, and Social Skills. (Epic fail). Moral of the story: I need to clearly redefine my goals as a teacher so that I can be truly passionate about teaching.
- Do I treat the teaching of my students as a mission? Yes, and no. I find this question less interesting than the rest.
- Do I have a vision for what I expect my students to achieve? Ahhhh, this one killed me. NO! I have no idea. I think this is what really got me this year. I did not have a clear end-goal in mind for my kids behaviorally, socially, or academically. And guess what? We didn’t get close to accomplishing anything! Our school has a “mission statement” that I could look at, but it is very vague. Does anyone (if anyone is still reading and isn’t bored out of their mind) have a list of things they expect their students to achieve?
- Do I set incremental and long-range goals for my students? Kinda, sorta, not really….
- Do I plan each day thoroughly, with a view towards success of all my students? Yes, and no. I think I plan my day thoroughly with the success of “most students” in mind- not all students. I find this incredibly daunting, but then I feel like a baby for saying that. But isn’t there a point where there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Maybe the point is just to always keep trying and never give up on trying to reach every student. It broke my soul to read the author of the book say “When I was a classroom teacher, if even one student failed an assessment that I administered, I held myself responsible. I would ask myself: What could I have done differently?.” My students fail all the time. I mean ALL THE TIME. I think I need to change my mindset.
- Do I have high expectations and standards for my students and believe that my students will reach them? No. I really don’t. They could be much higher.
Enough of this reflective session. Future self, come back and read this when you can digest and act on the information!