Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Making Assumptions...

This week I attended a meeting about having difficult conversations and one of the many things that stood out to me was the discussion on making assumptions. We are all guilty of making assumptions. However, one of the things that I have learned in my 16 years in education is that we should not make assumptions about students or about their life outside of school.

It is easy to assume that the child who is tardy every day is tardy because her mother is lazy or doesn't care about her child's education when in reality she may be a mother who works nights, leaving her daughter in the care of a sitter only to stumble through the door from an exhausting night shift just before the tardy bell. Maybe, just maybe, it takes all of her left over energy to load her child in the car and get her to school.

It is easy to assume that a child who demands constant attention from his teacher must not get any attention at home. Maybe, just maybe, the child does the same thing at home and the parent gets a well-deserved break while the child is in school. The school gets him for 6 hours, while the mother at home covers the other 18 hours. Hours that are spent trying to get the child to sit through dinner, get him tucked in bed while answering 52 questions and listening to his endless stories of what he knows about space.

It is easy to assume that students who are routinely absent are gone because the family just doesn't put education as a priority. Maybe, just maybe, that family doesn't have a home and are spending nights where they can and when they are fortunate to have a place to stay close to school they send the kids to school.

It is easy to assume that the student who is constantly telling you stories is doing so to avoid doing their assignment. Maybe, just maybe, they live in a home where conversations are not a regular thing and no one takes the time to listen to them.

I know that I am guilty of making assumptions, many that I should not have made. I spent years teaching in one of the roughest parts of Phoenix. It was easy to judge, to assume. What did the assumptions prove? What did they do for me? Maybe, just maybe, it made it easier for me to deal with students. I am not sure. However, I do know what I have learned and what I have taken away from teaching a diverse population.

Don't assume. Assumptions do not come from facts or truths.

Instead, value the time that the student is present. Thank the parent for calling. Thank the parent for visiting the school. Build relationships with students. Build relationships with parents.

We don't get to choose who our students are, where they come from, if they are fed, if they have a bed to sleep in, or if they want to be in school.

As teachers, it is our job to teach to the best of our abilities and to find the best of the abilities of our students. Education is not and never will be a one-size-fits-all platform. 

Kids are not the only ones who think teachers are superheroes.....I do too. So put on your cape and do what you were meant to do; TEACH!

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