During the last week of the Chicago Institute they has structured time to reflect on everything that happened this summer. I am currently in the first part of the first session- and am being told to reflect and have personal quiet time to do so, not just ignoring the speaker!- and reading some of the key reflection questions that they suggest that we look at.
One of the questions that they suggest that we look at is “How has your understanding of what [creating transformational change] will take changed since you began your pre-institute work?” For me, the only thing that changed was a deeper understanding. I knew this would take a lot of work, more work that I have ever done in my life, and I was proven wrong. I could not imagine the amount of effort (mostly all mental) required to find ways to reach these children. I’m not sure if it was just because they were summer school kids and some of them knew that they basically only needed to show up and not try to pass. Or if possibly it was my inability to grasp the math concepts I was teaching. I know I personally struggled SO hard to even grasp what it was I was teaching before I could even begin to try to teach it and work through my thought processes in front of them.
I didn’t realize that I don’t know how to reach kids that don’t care, and they don’t want to care. I was always intrinsically motivated to succeed in school. I still always want to learn more every single day. I am highly disappointed when I finish a day here and don’t feel like I’ve learned anything. But most of these kids didn’t care. They never brought a pencil to school (even though every single one of them stole one from us). They never came prepared, because they weren’t expected to. Most never wanted to learn. There were 4 to 5 (out of 11) that wanted to learn every day. But they were also the ones that struggled the most. There was one girl in particular with such an attitude that she bucked every direction ever given, even if it was explained to her. She will have so many problems later in life, and I worry about her future. Not only does she not care, she also has a f**k everyone attitude.
I know I haven’t lived up to what my students need from me in a teacher, but I wonder if I will ever be able to live up to that challenge. I wonder if anyone will ever be able to live up to that challenge. It is a daily struggle to know that you are not competent nor will you ever be able to live up to reach every child in your class and change the path they are on.
I know that I need to seek out mentors and teachers in my region that excel in teaching social studies. I know that I will have to struggle every day to find new resources and ways to reach the kids I will be teaching. I will have to reevaluate what I expected to do and how I expected to teach, because if my kids in the fall are anything like my kids this summer- they won’t be able to meet these expectations. (As well as I have to look at changing things because how I have always been taught, isn’t apparently the “new” “right” way to teach.
Bust most of all I have to believe. Believe that I will reach at least some of the kids and that I will be able to change at least one child’s path towards a much brighter future.