Bright Future Campaign - Closing the Attitude Gap - Week 23

Bright Future Campaign - Closing the Attitude Gap - Week 23

This week we begin Chapter 3, Relationships with Students, Do I Know Them? I do hope you have found the time to review each of the emails highlighting "Closing the Attitude Gap" and have made it important to reflect on the questions that allow each of us to determine what we are doing well and what we need to continue to improve upon. 

The person looking back at us in the mirror can tell us a lot if we are willing to listen. 

Prior to embarking on Chapter 3, please look into the mirror and ask yourself the following questions about your students: 

Do I know them?
Do I know how they learn?
Do I know how to keep them inspired about learning? 
Do I know how to keep them motivated to excel? 
Do I know their goals and ambitions? 
Do I know their needs and interests? 
Do I know their experiences and realities? 
Do I know their challenges and obstacles? 
Do I know their parents? 
Do I know their neighborhoods? 

As the chapter begins, Principal Kafele shares his experience in taking over a school that was just placed on the "persistently dangerous school" list under NCLB. One of just 50 schools in the United States. He goes on to share some small things they did to change the environment, such as painting, posting positive messages and meeting with the school as a while every Monday morning in the auditorium ensuring students heard how great they were, how special they were and how brilliant they were. 

Teachers took to the halls and cafeteria to build relationships with students. Saying hello in the halls, greeting students each morning, (even if they were not in your class), interacted with students in the halls, and ate with them in the cafeteria. (Love that) 

In just one year, his campus was removed from the "dangerous" list and make not mistakes about it,MIT was due to the relationships that were cultivated with students. 

Principal Kafele shares, "Show me a school where STRONG relationships do not exist and I will show you an underperforming school. Show me a school where relationships are intentional, however, and I will show you a school with unlimited potential. And make no mistake about it, 
see relationships should be reciprocal-the students should be able to get to know us as well as we get to know them. Hey should see that we are human and that there is more to our lives beyond teaching. 

***What do you think Principal Kafele would say about the relationships at Sigler?***

Knowing Your Students

Do you know each student? 
Really know them? 

Not just the name on the roster, the whole child. 

Do you know who they are after the dismissal bell? 
Do you know who they are on the walk or bus ride home from school? 
Do you know who they are in the neighborhood? 
Do you know who they are in their home?

The answers to each of these questions all affect each student's ability to learn in your classroom. 

You must be able to form a rapport with your students-a process that might begin as with taking a look at how you greet your students every day. 

Are you warm? 
Do you show your students that you are happy to see them? 

Research by Allen Mendler states, "It's best to personalize your greetings by including the student's name. Students appreciate knowing their teacher knows who they are."

Prior to her passing, I knew a teacher who worked in a building similar to ours who greeted each if her students just outside her door with a handshake, calling each of them by name daily. With the handshake was the expectation students would look her in the eye and said good morning back to her as well, using her name. Needless to say, he results she got out of her students were astounding! 

Knowing How Your Students Learn

How do your students learn? 
How do you connect with them? 
Are they auditory learners?
What is the best instructional methodology for connecting with all of the learners in your classroom? 
Do they all learn alike?
Do boys learn like the girls? 
Does culture play a role? 
Do home or neighborhood conditions influence your students' learning? 

Instantly Principal Kafele discusses lecture hand how prevalent it is in schools and how great it can be for auditory learners. What about the other types of learners in the classroom who sit through the lesson, having it directed to the wrong side of their brain? 

Students in buildings such as Sigler, urban and/or rural classrooms, need to be placed in student-centered environments where all of them are given the opportunity to learn based on their own unique learning styles. Enter differentiated instruction. It also requires teachers to know their students, which is the best way to know which instructional strategies work for them. 

Keeping Students Inspired About Learning 

Principal Kafele share their are basically three types of schools in urban/rural America today. 

High performing schools, these schools have dynamite administrative/leadership teams, support teams, and classroom teachers who have nurtured a school climate where failure is not an option; excellence is demanded of everyone in the building. Anything less is unacceptable in high performing schools. Some of these schools are nestled in the most dangerous neighborhoods in America. However, within the walls is an oasis of hope and dreams; of purpose, mission and vision; of hard work, dedication and commitment. 

Equally impressive are the urban/rural schools that are transforming their culture-perennially low-performing schools that are suddenly in the road to success. Excitement is in the air at these schools; teachers are fired up about coming to work every day and taking their teaching to the next level. Students are exited about the changes, too, and ready to put forth maximum effort. It's a new day in these schools and everyone involved can smell victory in the air. 

Unfortunately, the schools above are not the majority. Thousands of students attend low-performing schools in the US where the climate and culture is so toxic that closing the attitude gap becomes almost impossible. Students are not inspired to put forth maximum effort. They do not see the, light at the end of the tunnel-how success in school translates into success in life beyond school. 

This is where you come in. You are the authority of the room with your name on it. What will you do with this authority? How will you keep your students inspired about learning? How can you inspire them, if you do not know them? 

How can you inspire them, if they do not know you?

Keeping Students Motivated to Excel

There is one important question to ask yourself here. 

How do you keep yourself motivated over he course of a school year while simultaneously keeping students motivated? 

The answer is looking back at you in the mirror. Challenge yourself. 

In the context of your frustration with keeping your students motivated throughout the year, given your own fatigue, "Who are you?"

You may answer by sharing all of your positive attributes. 

In the context of your frustration with keeping your students motivated throughout the year, given your own fatigue, "What are you about?"

You may share your purpose for teaching. 

Finally, ask yourself, what your most recent evidence confirming your answers to the previous two questions? 

Dig deep to answer this question. It may be just the motivation you need to stay the course and continue to motivate your students. Reflection, in its truest for is powerful beyond measure. 

Remaining in Chapter 3 is:

Knowing Your Students' Goals and Aspirations
Knowing Your Students' Needs and Interests
Knowing Your Students' Experiences and Realities
Knowing Your Students' Challenges and Obstacles
Knowing Your Students' Parents
Knowing Your Students' Neighborhoods

The timing of next week's focus blows my mind as I spent time this week with Officer Forman, who patrols The Oaks of Collin Creek and shared with me some stories I will share with you next week. If you think you know what our students are dealing with, think again. Her stories blew my mind, but drives me to share them with you so we may continue to encourage and inspire our students to rise above!