Wouldn’t it be great if all teachers had the chance to interview their students? You know, do a background check and find out what’s the real story behind everything they bring into the classroom on a daily basis?
I know, I know! It sounds like I am in agreement with schools that may choose to cherry-pick their students. Just bear with me; my thoughts are far from those type of dealings. I am thinking more about teacher/student relationships and how knowing a child could help the teacher have a better idea of each child’s needs.
Yes, I know this may be crossing the line of asking teachers to be social workers but, in fact, teachers have our children at least 7 hours a day and knowing more about them should be mandatory. How many educators have had a child for almost a full year who never turned in homework or always had an attitude for no reason? How many had a student whose grades dropped dramatically or one who disappeared in the middle of the school year? Did it make you wonder what happened, where they are now, are they in school? What if you knew that same student had been homeless for the past three months and was about to get put out of another home?, Would you think different about how to educate that child? Would you try to find resources for that student’s family?
What about a 12th grade foster child who could benefit from a Youth In Transition program because once they turn 18 they need to leave the foster parents home?
Or the students who are raising their siblings because grandma who has custody is sick?
Could the school have programs that help address these types of family issues?
I could go on and on about scenarios of students who sit in your classrooms daily yet can’t focus because life is too hard.
The relationships you build with your students could be driven by overall success instead of academic success if you knew what they faced outside your classrooms.
Our teachers used to have the ability to do this, to get to know who their children are and challenge us to do better. Most of them lived, shopped, socialized and went to church in the same communities as us. Most of today’s teachers live an ½ hour drive from the school.
The disconnect in student/teacher relationships must be addressed.I know teachers are overworked and underpaid but something must change. You’ve got to know your students outside of the class lessons you give them. The best teachers do! All the lesson planning and test prep in the world won’t help a teacher teach a child whose is preoccupied with worries about whether or not she will have heat at home or how can he make money to help his parents.
Communities In Schools has a great model that schools use. As a former CIS AmeriCorps member I recall working to make sure families had what they needed at the school. Building better partnerships between the school, community and parents was our goal. It not only changed student moral but encouraged more parents engagement at the school.
What ever the model used, it needs to be done fast and with the whole child in mind, its the only way student success will actually be successful.