I've been a long time fan of Ron Clark and received the book as a birthday gift. After reading Part 1 I have to touch on some of my favorite points. I've read the other posts from the linky party and I'm so proud of how honest we are as teachers about our strengths and weaknesses and where we know we've screwed up. Please join in on this linky party- it will only make you a better teacher!
POINT 2: NOT EVERY CHILD DESERVES A COOKIE
Amen! Growing up my mother was strict and tough. Her expectation was that I tried my best and put forth my best effort on every assignment. Her expectation was NOT that I make straight A's. I work in a district where parents want and expect their children to make straight A's. On page 8 RC says, "I am afraid most parents would rather their child get a good education where they received A's and praise than an outstanding education where they struggled and received C's." That about sums up the area where I work. A few years ago I had a horrific school year. Our district had created an accelerated class where what was taught in five days would be taught in four and the fifth day students would work on an enrichment project. I did not teach the accelerated class. I was left with students where were average or below level and all of the behavior problem students. I worked my tail off! I tried to make everything exciting and fresh. I was literally singing and dancing to keep my kids attention. (It made me livid to hear the other teachers talk about how it was the best year of teaching they had ever had because their students worked so hard and they loved the enrichment projects. It felt like I was working 50 times harder than they were!) One parent did not like the 75 that her child had received on an assignment. To be honest that 75 was generous. She accused me of hating her child, hating all boys, she told my administrators that I made students sharpen pencils with scissors. (WHAT?! HOW LUDICROUS!) I was told to apologize to the parent. Yes, really. It ruined the year for me. Every grade I gave was questioned because the parents all felt their children were A students. I admit it, I gave up. I started giving A's even when the child didn't deserve an A. I couldn't take it anymore. I had no support and I was miserable!
This year I started off the year telling my parents that first grade was challenging and that I had very high expectations both with behavior and academically. I told them that with the bar high students would work hard to reach it. I also told them I couldn't do it without their help and support at home. I'm still being questioned by a few parents on absolutely everything, but the majority of parents like that their children are being challenged. I think when I first started teaching I assumed most teachers challenged their students. It turns out more teachers than I thought give A's because they have no support.
POINT 7: GET TO KNOW YOUR STUDENTS IN NONACADEMIC SETTINGS
I love this one! I had a fourth grade student who was having a hard time with his parents divorce. It was an ugly divorce and it had been ongoing for more than a year by the time he entered my classroom. But he loved football. I told him I loved football too and we talked college teams and the NFL. I was tough on him. His outbursts and disrespect were not tolerated EVER. I knew he was having a rough time with the divorce, but my expectations are always the same from day one to the end of the school year. His father was so supportive of me holding his son accountable. One day J asked me to come to his football game. I jumped at the chance! When I showed up he was SO EXCITED. He turned bright red and immediately ignored me- ha! His father and grandmother were there. His grandmother told me what a great year her grandson was having and that he loved coming to school. Every year since then I have attended at least one game. A couple of years ago, before I was married, he asked me to bring my boyfriend too. So adorable when he went up and shook Dave's hand, "It's nice to meet you sir." He emails me at school from time to time and reminds me of how great it is to be somebody's favorite teacher. He is in middle school this year and came to meet the teacher night. He is taller than I am, but had his arms around me telling all the parents that I was his favorite teacher. So simple to take an hour out of my Saturday to see him play and forever have him working hard for me.
Run out and get this book! You 'll be so motivated! And join the linky party here. Part two of the linky party starts this week. Have a great weekend!
Check out this video from Ron Clark!