My first teaching job was at a private school where the teachers complained about students that wanted additional homework and a bigger challenge. Yes, that was our biggest problem. The students wanted good grades, but even more than that, the students wanted to be successful. Nearly everyone wanted to be a doctor and everyone wanted to get into a top university. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I began a new teaching job at a new school. I just took it for granted that students want to learn. Now, if I mention college to a senior, they just shrug their shoulders and mutter something about community college under their breath.
The biggest difference between these two groups of students is the culture in which they’ve been raised. In my old school, students were held to a high standard by their parents, teachers – everyone. College representatives were constantly coming to visit the students; college and scholarship applications were always readily available, and these students knew they had options. My current students need to know that they are capable of achieving more. A culture needs to be created that forces these students to realize just how important college choices are.
Edutopia featured an article titled, “Creating a Culture of ‘Can,’” which discussed the different ways to create enabled learners. Students must learn and truly understand they can. Heick says, “Can is a mix of knowledge and self-efficacy that has been nurtured through experience – by consistently meeting both internally and externally created goals judged by standards that are also both internally and externally drawn.” I now realize that my new teaching job doesn’t just require teaching – I must create a diverse classroom culture that promotes independence, collaboration, and success.