Bright Future Campaign - Closing the Attitude Gap - Week 22

Bright Future Campaign - Closing the Attitude Gap - Week 22 

This week we will wrap up Chapter 2 which you recall is Attitude Toward Students, Do I Believe in Them? Chapter 2 has been a heavy chapter with a lot of reflection and having to look deep within to determine if we have our belief system where it absolutely needs to be in order to reach all of our students. As we close Chapter 2 we will focus on goal setting (which is timely as our students in grades 3rd-5th listened to two great speakers this past week on our Future's Day), planning, being a role model, being the primary determinant of student success or failure, and daily self reflection. 

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? 
Setting Short and Long Term Goals for Students

How are you fulfilling the goals you have set to help your students attain theirs? Depending on what goals you have set for the students in your classroom, consider adding the following: 

Consistently complete homework assignments
Pass quizzes and tests with an A or B grade
Meet the criteria for Student of the Week/Month
Maintain perfect attendance
Arrive to school or class on time

Regardless of the goals you have set for your students, the key is to let your students know that you have set them. Simply telling them the goal is not enough. Post these goals on the wall or a bulletin board. Doing so increases the likelihood that students will be encouraged to help meet the goals. Posting the goals also clearly demonstrates to your students that you are serious about them, because it shows them you measure your success by their performance. The examples above could be considered short term goals, but long term goals need to be in place as well. 

Increasing the number of student who will make the honor roll in all four grading periods
Number of students who will maintain perfect attendance for the entire school year

Planning Each Day Thoroughly for Students' Success

Planning is essential, unavoidable and non-negotiable. Teachers must have a plan for all of the students if you want to maximize their potential in the classroom. Our special education teachers can relate to this as each of their students has a individualized education plan for each of their students, an IEP. If you stop and think, it makes sense, since each of the students who qualifies for special education has been identified as learning information differently for what ever reason. Their success increases exponentially with a individualized plan in place. For that specific reason, Principal Kafele believes teacher in all classes should keep each of their students in mind as they are planning. In some cases it may mean planning for each student differently. He specifically states, "I am well aware that this requires additional time, time-consuming work, but I can see no other way to effectively close the attitude gap." Teachers who have accepted this approach, can vouch for the success they have seen in their students. 

Being a Role Model for Students and Conducting Yourself Professionally

Students are in school, on a typical school day for upwards of seven hours. Multiply that times the 180 school days and teachers spend over 1200 hours a year with students. Spending that much time with children makes teachers a role model for students whether you accept it or not. 

Principal Kafele tells teachers, "The power is in your hands - the power to effect enormous change in the lives of students, the power to create entire classrooms of high performers." There are so many variables that can have an effect on studetns and some we take for granted. One of those variables is the way we conduct ourselves. Students are watching us, they admire us, and inevitably they are going to pick up some of our traits. We must conduct ourselves as professionals at all time.s 

Do you see yourself as a role model for students? 
Do you see yourself as having qualities they may want to emulate? 
Do you realize your students are watching you and listening to you? 

We must be mindful of how we speak, what we say, and how we dress. Many students are looking for role models. Are we living up to their expectations? 

We are professionals and our intent must be to bring our students closer to where we are, not to go where they are in the name of forging a connection. 

Principal Kafele shares being in schools during his consultations where teachers, leaders and students do not greet one another in the morning, they just walk past one another without acknowledging each other's presence. Is this the culture and climate you wish to work in? We are role models and it is incumbent of us to take the initiative and greet our students - and to expect they will greet us back. 

(On a side note, I know this is something we can continue to build upon, especially the part of expecting students greet us back) 

Being the Primary Determinant of Your Students' Success of Failure

In workshops across the US, Principal Kafele is constantly asked, "You expect me to believe that, with all of the variables in my students' lives, I'm the single one that will determine whether or not my kids succeed?" His answer is an emphatic, unequivocal, "YES." 

In one workshop. Principal Kafele recalls a teacher who had a hard time connecting with the statement above. He argued his students had to many negative influences in the community outside of his school and it was too much to overcome. This is exactly why, attitudes need to change towards students. If teachers succumbed to this believe, that we are helpless in the face of negative outside influences, then students do not stand a chance - they are already at a deficit because of the attitude toward them. 

Regardless of the school, school district, community if the mentality is negative, how can we realistically expect the students to achieve? The mindset must be that despite the social challenges, our students are going to soar like eagles (in our case, shine like stars) because we are their teachers. 

Students/schools in at-risk urban or rural children need us! We need to be confident about our ability to effectively and properly educate students. We need to see social challenges not as excuses, but as motivation to help students scale unimagined heights. We must make students understand they and their friends have a role to play in overcoming the adversity and working hard in school is where it starts. Students deserve this opportunity and the best way of ensuring their success is be declaring it WILL happen because YOU are their teacher. 

What is your attitude toward your students? 
How do you feel about them and their chances for success in life? 
What is your attitude about your ability to inspire them to strive for excellence? 

The answers to these questions will determine outcomes for your students. 

When your students enter your classroom what do they see? Do they see your name associated with their success? That is YOUR classroom. YOU are the one who determines outcomes in that classroom. YOU are the one who creates scholars in that classroom - who creates hope, who lets dreams flourish, who keeps negative influences from entering the room. 

Remind your students constantly that where they are now does not necessarily determine where they will wind up later!

Daily Self-Reflection and Self-Assessments

We all face an enormous pressure and the demands to perform at optimal levels are not going away. How do you ensure you are consistently displaying the right attitude toward your students? It was mentioned at the beginning of Chapter 2, how important it is to pause and reflect upon your performance in front of a mirror on a daily basis. Not a single day should go by that you do not do this. At the end of each day, you must run a mental DVD of your entire day. 

Think of your state of mind when you arrived at the school in the morning. 
Think of the lessons you presented. 
Think of the interactions you had with students. 
Think of how you challenged them and engaged them. 
Think of any incidents that may have occurred and how you handled them. 

During your reflection time, you should also assess your performance:

Rate yourself, and be brutally honest.
What adjustments may you need to make? 

After going through your self-assessment you may want to jot down some goals related to what you would like to improve upon for the next day, preferably in a journal reserved for this purpose. Write down your goals and your strategies for meeting them. At the beginning of the next day ask yourself these questions in your mirror: 

Who are you? 
What are you about?
What is your most recent evidence? 

Principal Kafele shares his responses to the questions above: 

"I am Principal Kafele of Newark Tech. I am not ordinary at what I do; I am extraordinary at what I do." If you are gong to do your part to produce extraordinary results, you have to feel extraordinary as an educator. How can you consider it realistic that you will achieve extraordinary results if you don't even know what "extraordinary" feels like?

"I am about the business of ensuring that every student in the building is striving to achieve excellence." In other words, his purpose what his students' success. You, too, must hear your reflection confirm that you are all about your students - all of them - and you will therefore do all that is necessary to ensure their academic success. 

The third question is the most difficult. What have you done in the last 24 hours to confirm you are who you say you are? Determine what strategies, activities, and interactions you have engaged in to move your students closer to success. 

After answering the 3 questions you are ready to start your day. If you have no good answer, you know you have work to do - each and every day, you must be able to acknowledge something you did that day to move your students forward from where they were the day before. 

Challenge yourself this week! Set your goals, write them down, create some action steps and then listen do your reflection and determine who you are.