Closing the Attitude Gap - Week 21

Closing the Attitude Gap - Week 21

This week, we will finish up chapter 2, "Attitude Toward Students" Do I Believe in Them? As I was sitting in a classroom this week observing student play a math game noticed she was not marking her game board as the teacher read questions. The game board she created had the correct answers, so after watching for a few minutes I asked her what her answer would be. She thought for a moment and provided the correct answer and I encouraged her to mark it on her board. We talked through the next several questions and she had each of them correct and then marked her game board. I asked why she wasn't marking her answers before and she simply said, I second guess myself and don't think I'm right. This particular student has been at Sigler since KN and I know we have poured our hearts into her, but the world outside of Sigler has taught her to doubt herself and the work we have done has not overcome the "outside world". This conversation reminded me of this book and the importance of our students knowing we believe in them. Be sure to let your students know that this week. 

As you recall, the reflective questions for chapter 2 are:

Do I believe in them? 
Do I have a passion for teaching them? 
Do I have a purpose for teaching them? 
Do I treat teaching them as a mission? 
Do I have a vision for what I expect of them? 
Do I set incremental and long-range goals for them to achieve? 
Do I plan each day thoroughly toward their success?
Do I see myself as a role model for them and always conduct myself as a professional? 
Do I see myself as the number-one determinant of their success or failure? 
Do I conduct daily self-reflections and self-assessments of my practice of teaching them? 

Treating Teaching as a Mission 

Principal Kafele suggests treating teaching as one's mission and would take a mission-oriented teacher over a career-oriented teacher any day. The teacher with a mission orientation is going to get the job done; nothing is going to stop her from achieving the goal of student success. Although teaching is her career, she believes there's more to it. He believes his approach to teaching tells your students, "Your success in my room is my mission. Your future is my mission. Your life is my mission. And my mission will be accomplished." A teacher who is mission driven is bound to have higher expectations for her students than a career-oriented teacher. 

Which one are you? 

Principal Kafele continues with teachers needing to understand their role. Teachers are just not a math or science teacher. Rather, the mindset must be, "I teach children who are faced with enormous challenges that adversely affect their attitudes toward school, but I will make sure that nothing inhibits my students from experiencing success in my classroom. 

A school's mission should reflect its teachers' mission orientation. In his trainings he asks teachers to stand and recite their school's mission and in most cases they do not know it. 

Do you know ours? 

He also asks if teachers have written a mission statement for their classroom, usually they have not. 

Have you? 

He feels both are critically important. 

Imagine a teacher whose mission is to close the attitude gap in her classroom. She has it written and posted and students recite this mission everyday and expects them to learn it by heart. This is a recipe for serious learning. We will learn more about mission statements later in this book. 

Developing a Vision of What to Expect from Students 

At the beginning of each year, teachers must ask themselves, "What will my students have achieved by the end of each marking period? What effect will my instruction and interactions have on them over he course of the entire year? How successful will my students be in the long term as a result of having me as their teacher?" The answer to these questions supply the vision of what you expect for your students. Having a sense of your vision allows you to see the students' success before you utter the first word of the first lesson or they complete their first assignment. 

Vision is seeing, anticipating, and expecting an intended outcome. Coming to work each day with a day-to-day mindset is not good enough. You must visualize your students achieving at the highest levels because you are their teacher. During his travels he encounters many teachers who have no vision but have lots of excuses. He reminds them that excuses for their students' failure are unacceptable. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES. 

Too many children do not have the ability to see their future, to have a vision to dream big. They see their day to day lives and don't realize they can have more. That is where we come in. Dare your students to see themselves 10, 20, 30 years from now, achieving their dreams. This is one thing I wish for our kids during our Future's Day guest speakers.  

Folks, chapter 2 is heavy. I shared that last week as well. Before moving forward and finishing the chapter, I want you to chew in this. 

What is the mission of Sigler Elementary?
What is the mission in your classroom? 
Do our students know either one? 
What is the vision we have at Sigler for our students? 
What is the vision you have in your classroom? 
Do our students know either one? 

Answering those questions may not be easy, but we must be able to, to set the table for our students success. 

Next week we will conclude chapter 2, discussing; goal setting, planning, being a role model, being the primary determinant of student success or failure and self assessment.