Saturday, April 2, 2016
Failure is not a destination...
My nephew is in the 7th grade. There are less than two months before the end of the school year, and he is failing. He has been failing all year. My sister didn't tell me until last week and my heart is broken for him.
I know he's probably not the best behaved student in the class. He's one of the youngest in his grade and is a very active kid. He plays just about every sport possible and spends lots of time outside or playing with friends. He's a good kid, but I'm sure it's hard for him to focus on school because "sit and get" is not his strength.
He's not very different from many students I know. When classes aren't interesting, I'm sure he checks out. Whatever the case may be, he hasn't been learning everything his teachers have been teaching.
If a student fails the homework and fails the test, they haven't learned what I was teaching. I haven't done my job. It is still my job to teach them, even if that's in the form of remediation. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but that's my job. My responsibility is to teach, not just provide information.
This isn't just because I teach students with IEPs and accommodations, this is because I teach students who are also human beings.
If I could go back to the beginning of the year and make sure my sister knew what to say to or ask of my nephew's teachers, he may not be failing now. I'd tell her when would be an appropriate time to contact the principal, attend a parent-teacher conference with her to find out more information, offer to observe him in class, or help him after school. There are a lot of processes I understand because I am a teacher. It's easy to forget that parents don't understand or know that protocol. That's why the burden falls on us to communicate with parents.
There are many lessons to be learned from failure. But for the sake of my nephew and the other kids out there, please make sure failure is just a place along their path, not a destination.